Nearly all generalized wave continuity (GWC)-based models utilize the velocity-based, non-conservative form of the momentum equation to obtain the depth-averaged changes in velocity. It has been hypothesized that a flux-based, conservative form of the momentum equation may improve accuracy and stability. Herein, we study the impact of the choice of dependent variable and form of the momentum equation in a GWC-based finite element shallow water model. The impact of this change on mass balance, stability, and accuracy (spatial and temporal) is rigorously assessed, first for 1D barotropic flows and then for 2D barotropic flows in a variety of basins. Both 1D and 2D results indicate that the conservative form improves mass balance on both global and local scales, with the most significant gains found in local mass balance in areas with steep bathymetry gradients. This is also the region where the conservative form shows an increase in local spatial accuracy. Taylor series analysis and numerical simulations indicate a strong correlation between local spatial truncation errors and local mass balance errors. Stability, temporal accuracy and global spatial accuracy do not show statistically significant changes between the two algorithms in both 1D and 2D studies.
KM Dresback, RL Kolar, JC Dietrich (2005). “On the Form of the Momentum Equation for Shallow Water Models Based on the Generalized Wave Continuity Equation: Conservative vs. Non-Conservative.” Advances in Water Resources, 28(4), 345-358.