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A numerical study of hypothetical storm surge and coastal inundation for AILA cyclone in the Bay of Bengal


The head Bay region bordering the Bay of Bengal is highly vulnerable to tropical cyclones. Catastrophic risks from storm surge and associated inundation are quite high due to high population density in coastal areas, socio-economic conditions, and shallow bathymetry. It features the world’s largest deltaic system comprising of ‘Sunderbans’ bordered by West Bengal and Bangladesh. In a geomorphologic sense, the head Bay region is a low-lying belt comprising several barrier islands and river drainage systems, numerous tidal creeks, and mud flats having a high risk for widespread inundation. In addition, the high tidal range together with low-lying topography leads to high risk and vulnerability from storm surge inundation. During May 2009, a severe cyclonic storm Aila struck West Bengal causing enormous destruction to life and property along coastal belts of West Bengal and Bangladesh. It was the strongest pre-monsoon cyclone in the past two decades that had landfall in West Bengal. This work reports on a numerical study for hypothetical storm surge and associated inundation from Aila using the ADCIRC model. The study covers a comprehensive qualitative analysis on water level elevation and onshore inundation for West Bengal and Bangladesh regions. The estimated peak storm surge was about 4 m in the Sunderban region that propagated into all major riverine systems, inundating the river banks as well the inland areas. Numerical simulations indicate an average inland penetration distance of 350 m with a maximum of 600 m at various coastal locations in West Bengal and Bangladesh. The study emphasizes the need and importance of inundation modeling system required for emergency preparedness and disaster management.

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This research work is a part of the High-resolution Operational Ocean Forecast and Reanalysis System (HOOFS) project funded by the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS). The authors gratefully acknowledge INCOIS, Hyderabad under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India for funding this research work and also the development team of ADCIRC model.

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Correspondence to Prasad K. Bhaskaran.

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Gayathri, R., Murty, P.L.N., Bhaskaran, P.K. et al. A numerical study of hypothetical storm surge and coastal inundation for AILA cyclone in the Bay of Bengal. Environ Fluid Mech 16, 429–452 (2016).

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  • ADCIRC model
  • Storm surge
  • Coastal inundation
  • Aila cyclone