A Basin- to Channel-Scale Unstructured Grid Hurricane Storm Surge Model Applied to Southern Louisiana

Joannes J. Westerink Department of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana

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Richard A. Luettich Institute of Marine Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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Jesse C. Feyen Department of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana

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John H. Atkinson Department of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana

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Clint Dawson Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas

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Hugh J. Roberts Department of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana

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Mark D. Powell Hurricane Research Division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Miami, Florida

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Jason P. Dunion University of Miami–NOAA/Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Miami, Florida

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Ethan J. Kubatko Department of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana

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Hasan Pourtaheri *U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District, New Orleans, Louisiana

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Abstract

Southern Louisiana is characterized by low-lying topography and an extensive network of sounds, bays, marshes, lakes, rivers, and inlets that permit widespread inundation during hurricanes. A basin- to channel-scale implementation of the Advanced Circulation (ADCIRC) unstructured grid hydrodynamic model has been developed that accurately simulates hurricane storm surge, tides, and river flow in this complex region. This is accomplished by defining a domain and computational resolution appropriate for the relevant processes, specifying realistic boundary conditions, and implementing accurate, robust, and highly parallel unstructured grid numerical algorithms.

The model domain incorporates the western North Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea so that interactions between basins and the shelf are explicitly modeled and the boundary condition specification of tidal and hurricane processes can be readily defined at the deep water open boundary. The unstructured grid enables highly refined resolution of the complex overland region for modeling localized scales of flow while minimizing computational cost. Kinematic data assimilative or validated dynamic-modeled wind fields provide the hurricane wind and pressure field forcing. Wind fields are modified to incorporate directional boundary layer changes due to overland increases in surface roughness, reduction in effective land roughness due to inundation, and sheltering due to forested canopies. Validation of the model is achieved through hindcasts of Hurricanes Betsy and Andrew. A model skill assessment indicates that the computed peak storm surge height has a mean absolute error of 0.30 m.

Current affiliation: Coast Survey Development Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, Maryland

Current affiliation: Arcadis U.S., Denver, Colorado

Corresponding author address: Joannes Westerink, Dept. of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, 156 Fitzpatrick Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Email: jjw@photius.ce.nd.edu

Abstract

Southern Louisiana is characterized by low-lying topography and an extensive network of sounds, bays, marshes, lakes, rivers, and inlets that permit widespread inundation during hurricanes. A basin- to channel-scale implementation of the Advanced Circulation (ADCIRC) unstructured grid hydrodynamic model has been developed that accurately simulates hurricane storm surge, tides, and river flow in this complex region. This is accomplished by defining a domain and computational resolution appropriate for the relevant processes, specifying realistic boundary conditions, and implementing accurate, robust, and highly parallel unstructured grid numerical algorithms.

The model domain incorporates the western North Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea so that interactions between basins and the shelf are explicitly modeled and the boundary condition specification of tidal and hurricane processes can be readily defined at the deep water open boundary. The unstructured grid enables highly refined resolution of the complex overland region for modeling localized scales of flow while minimizing computational cost. Kinematic data assimilative or validated dynamic-modeled wind fields provide the hurricane wind and pressure field forcing. Wind fields are modified to incorporate directional boundary layer changes due to overland increases in surface roughness, reduction in effective land roughness due to inundation, and sheltering due to forested canopies. Validation of the model is achieved through hindcasts of Hurricanes Betsy and Andrew. A model skill assessment indicates that the computed peak storm surge height has a mean absolute error of 0.30 m.

Current affiliation: Coast Survey Development Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, Maryland

Current affiliation: Arcadis U.S., Denver, Colorado

Corresponding author address: Joannes Westerink, Dept. of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, 156 Fitzpatrick Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Email: jjw@photius.ce.nd.edu

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