Progress on “Changing coastlines: data assimilation for morphodynamic prediction and predictability”
Thornhill, G. D., Scott, T. R., Smith , P.J., Dance, S. L., Mason, D. C., Nichols, N. K., Baines, M. J., Horsburgh, K.J., Sweby, P. K. and Lawless, A. S. (2009) Progress on “Changing coastlines: data assimilation for morphodynamic prediction and predictability”. In: Third NERC FREE Conference, 10-11 September, Plymouth. (Unpublished)
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The task of assessing the likelihood and extent of coastal flooding is hampered by the lack of detailed information on near-shore bathymetry. This is required as an input for coastal inundation models, and in some cases the variability in the bathymetry can impact the prediction of those areas likely to be affected by flooding in a storm. The constant monitoring and data collection that would be required to characterise the near-shore bathymetry over large coastal areas is impractical, leaving the option of running morphodynamic models to predict the likely bathymetry at any given time. However, if the models are inaccurate the errors may be significant if incorrect bathymetry is used to predict possible flood risks. This project is assessing the use of data assimilation techniques to improve the predictions from a simple model, by rigorously incorporating observations of the bathymetry into the model, to bring the model closer to the actual situation. Currently we are concentrating on Morecambe Bay as a primary study site, as it has a highly dynamic inter-tidal zone, with changes in the course of channels in this zone impacting the likely locations of flooding from storms. We are working with SAR images, LiDAR, and swath bathymetry to give us the observations over a 2.5 year period running from May 2003 – November 2005. We have a LiDAR image of the entire inter-tidal zone for November 2005 to use as validation data. We have implemented a 3D-Var data assimilation scheme, to investigate the improvements in performance of the data assimilation compared to the previous scheme which was based on the optimal interpolation method. We are currently evaluating these different data assimilation techniques, using 22 SAR data observations. We will also include the LiDAR data and swath bathymetry to improve the observational coverage, and investigate the impact of different types of observation on the predictive ability of the model. We are also assessing the ability of the data assimilation scheme to recover the correct bathymetry after storm events, which can dramatically change the bathymetry in a short period of time.