, Volume 57, Issue 4-5, pp 401-416

Influence of non-linear effects upon surge elevations along the west coast of Britain

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A two-dimensional vertically integrated hydrodynamic finite-element model of the west coast of Britain is used to examine the response of the region to extreme meteorological forcing. The extent to which tide–surge interaction modifies the computed surge elevation and current distributions is examined in detail. The nature of the finite-element model with its ability to refine the mesh in nearshore regions is ideal for examining the influence of non-linear effects upon surges in these regions. Calculations using spatially uniform orthogonal wind stresses show that the surge elevation and current in shallow water are particularly sensitive to the method used to remove the tide as a result of the highly non-linear nature of the tide–surge interaction in these regions. The most accurate means of de-tiding the solution is by subtracting a tide derived by harmonic analysis of the tide and surge time series at the time of the surge. Subtracting a tide-only solution (the usual approach) leads to tidal energy leaking into the surge solution. Calculations show that this arises because the surge modifies the tidal amplitude and phase in shallow-water regions to such an extent that they are appreciably different to those found in the tide-only calculation. Results suggest that this problem becomes more important, as nearshore meshes are refined in an attempt to improve surge prediction. This suggests that in the future, highly accurate fine-mesh models will be required to compute total water levels without the present linear separation into tidal and surge signal used in operational surge prediction.

Responsible editor: Phil Dyke