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Simulating compound flooding events in a hurricane

Abstract

Compound flooding is usually induced by the concurrence of coastal storm surge and heavy precipitation induced river flooding, with the former involving oceanic processes and the latter involving hydrological processes. The simulation of these two types of processes is traditionally handled by two different types of models separately, i.e., hydrological models (e.g., NOAA’s National Water Model (NWM)) and hydrodynamic models. This dichotomy leaves gaps in simulating the interrelated processes in a holistic fashion. In this paper, we present a creek-to-ocean 3D baroclinic model based on SCHISM (Semi-implicit Cross-scale Hydroscience Integrated System Model) that aims to unite traditional hydrologic and hydrodynamic models in a single modeling platform to simulate compound floods, by taking full advantage of the model polymorphism (i.e., a single model grid can seamlessly morph between full 3D, 2DV, 2DH, and quasi-1D modes). Using Hurricane Irene’s impact on Delaware Bay as an example, a seamless 2D-3D model grid is implemented to include the entire US East Coast and Gulf of Mexico with a highly resolved Delaware Bay (down to 20-m resolution). The streamflow from NWM is injected into SCHISM grid at the intersections of NWM’s segments and SCHISM’s land boundary, and the pluvial and fluvial processes are directly handled by SCHISM. We demonstrate the model’s accuracy, stability, and robustness with focus on the compound flooding events. The relative role of different physical processes in such events is examined by a series of sensitivity tests. Our results confirm the occurrence of backwater process into far upstream rivers and creeks and thus demonstrate the need for a dynamic two-way coupling between the hydrodynamic and hydrological models.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Note that hydrological models are designed to handle not only surface water processes but also other aspects of a hydrological cycle such as groundwater flow and evapotranspiration. However, if we focus on the surface water processes alone as a first step, a hydrodynamic model can in theory be used to study the compound flooding events. This is a good starting point for the nearshore areas because the groundwater effects are often considered secondary there and, in many cases, can be accounted for by using some simplified approaches such as volume sources and sinks. However, a fully coupled surface-groundwater model may be necessary in some coastal zones to accurately account for the water budget. As a first step, the use of a unified modeling framework in the form of a hydrodynamic model for the coastal zone is obviously advantageous as it greatly simplifies the model coupling procedure down the road.

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Acknowledgments

Simulations presented in this paper were conducted using the following computational facilities: (1) SciClone at the College of William and Mary which were provided with assistance from the National Science Foundation, the Virginia Port Authority, Virginia’s Commonwealth Technology Research Fund, and the Office of Naval Research; (2) the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE; Grant TG-OCE130032), which is supported by National Science Foundation grant number OCI-1053575; (3) the NASA High-End Computing (HEC) Program through the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division at Ames Research Center; and (4) US Department of Energy’s Scientific Computing Center.

Funding

This study was funded by NOAA under Water Initiative (Grant Number NA16NWS4620043).

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Correspondence to Yinglong J. Zhang.

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Responsible Editor: Amin Chabchoub

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Cite this article

Zhang, Y.J., Ye, F., Yu, H. et al. Simulating compound flooding events in a hurricane. Ocean Dynamics 70, 621–640 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10236-020-01351-x

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Keywords

  • Compound flooding
  • Backwater effect
  • National Water Model
  • SCHISM
  • Delaware Bay
  • USA