Storm Surge Predictions from Ocean to Subgrid Scales

The inland propagation of storm surge caused by tropical cyclones depends on large and small waterways to connect the open ocean to inland bays, estuaries, and floodplains. Numerical models for storm surge require these waterways and their surrounding topography to be resolved sufficiently, which can require millions of computational cells for flooding simulations on a large (ocean scale) computational domain, leading to higher demands for computational resources and longer wall-clock times for simulations. Alternatively, the governing shallow water equations can be modified to introduce subgrid corrections that allow coarser and cheaper simulations with comparable accuracy. In this study, subgrid corrections are extended for the first time to simulations at the ocean scale. Higher-level corrections are included for bottom friction and advection, and look-up tables are optimized for large model domains. Via simulations of tides, storm surge, and coastal flooding due to Hurricane Matthew in 2016, the improvements in water level prediction accuracy due to subgrid corrections are evaluated at 218 observation locations throughout 1500 km of coast along the South Atlantic Bight. The accuracy of the subgrid model with relatively coarse spatial resolution (ERMS = 0.41 m) is better than that of a conventional model with relatively fine spatial resolution (ERMS = 0.67 m). By running on the coarsened subgrid model, we improved the accuracy over efficiency curve for the model, and as a result, the computational expense of the simulation was decreased by a factor of 13.

JL Woodruff, JC Dietrich, D Wirasaet, AB Kennedy, D Bolster (2023). “Storm surge predictions from ocean to subgrid scales.” Natural Hazards, published online, DOI: 10.1007/s11069-023-05975-2.

Poster: EWC Symposium 2023

JS Knowles, JC Dietrich. “Storm Surge Predictions at Hyperlocal Sites“. Environmental, Water Resources, and Coastal Engineering Research Symposium, North Carolina State University, 10 March 2023.

Storm Surge Predictions at Hyperlocal Sites

TA Cuevas López, BJ Tucker, JC Dietrich. “Toward Prediction of High-resolution Maps of Hurricane-driven Coastal Flooding using Deep Learning“. Environmental, Water Resources, and Coastal Engineering Research Symposium, North Carolina State University, 10 March 2023.

Toward Prediction of High-resolution Maps of Hurricane-driven Coastal Flooding using Deep Learning

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Improved Wave Predictions with ST6 Physics and ADCIRC+SWAN

The Simulating WAves Nearshore (SWAN, Booij et al. 1999) model is used widely for predictions of waves in coastal regions. Like other spectral wave models, SWAN uses parameterizations to represent wave evolution due to sources (e.g. wind), sinks (e.g. whitecapping, bottom friction, depth-limited breaking), and resonance (e.g. quadruplet and triad wave-wave interactions). Each parameterization is based typically on observational data to represent the transfer of energy to, from, and between waves. It is necessary for each term to represent its physical process, but it is also necessary for the terms to be calibrated collectively to represent their combined effects on wave evolution. The calibrated wave predictions can then be coupled with models for circulation and coastal flooding, e.g. ADvanced CIRCulation (ADCIRC, Luettich et al. 1992).

SWAN release version 41.20 included a new “package” of wave physics (referred to as ST6 physics). This package has new parameterizations of wind input, whitecapping, swell dissipation, wind speed scaling, and other processes (Rogers et al. 2012). The ST6 physics have been adopted by other wave models (e.g. NOAA’s WaveWatch III, Liu et al. 2019), and it may become the preferred physics package for SWAN. However, because the ST6 physics package has changes to so many parameterizations, it is necessary to quantify its effects on wave predictions. Recent studies (e.g. Aydogan and Ayat 2021) have demonstrated the benefits of using the ST6 physics in the standalone version of SWAN, but its effects have not been quantified for the coupled ADCIRC+SWAN (Dietrich et al. 2011a), which is used for real-time forecasts during impending storms. Do the ST6 physics improve the ADCIRC+SWAN wave predictions?

CC Day, JC Dietrich (2022). “Improved wave predictions with ST6 Physics and ADCIRC+SWAN.” Shore & Beach, 90(1), 59-61, DOI: 10.34237/1009016.

Ajimon’s Paper Selected as Editor’s Choice

Our recent paper, “Effects of Model Resolution and Coverage on Storm-Driven Coastal Flooding Predictions,” was selected as the Editor’s Choice by the Journal of Waterway, Port, Coastal and Ocean Engineering. The chief editor selects a paper from the current issue. The paper is made free with registration and featured on the journal home page for two months, after which it will continue to be featured in the Editor’s Choice Collection.

Congratulations to Ajimon!

Effects of Model Resolution and Coverage on Storm-Driven Coastal Flooding Predictions

Predictions of storm surge and flooding require models with higher resolution of coastal regions, to describe fine-scale bathymetric and topographic variations, natural and artificial channels, flow features, and barriers. However, models for real-time forecasting often use a lower resolution to improve efficiency. There is a need to understand how resolution of inland regions can translate to predictive accuracy, but previous studies have not considered differences between models that both represent conveyance into floodplains and are intended to be used in real time. In this study, the effects of model resolution and coverage are explored using comparisons between forecast-ready and production-grade models that both represent floodplains along the US southeast coast, but with typical resolutions in coastal regions of 400 and 50 m, respectively. For two storms that impacted the US southeast coast, it is shown that, although the overall error statistics are similar between simulations on the two meshes, the production-grade model allowed a greater conveyance into inland regions, which improved the tide and surge signals in small channels and increased the inundation volumes between 40% and 60%. Its extended coverage also removed water level errors of 20–40 cm associated with boundary effects in smaller regional models.

A Thomas, JC Dietrich, CN Dawson, RA Luettich (2022). “Effects of Model Resolution and Coverage on Storm-Driven Coastal Flooding Predictions.” Journal of Waterway, Port, Coastal, and Ocean Engineering, 148(1), 04021046, DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)WW.1943-5460.0000687.