A Regional Testbed for Storm Surge and Coastal Inundation Models - an Overview

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Conference Proceeding

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Since 2008, a regional testbed has been comparing storm surge models in terms of historical storm simulations and coastal inundation maps, e.g., flood insurance rate maps and surge atlas. The models include two structured grid (CH3D and POM) and two unstructured grid (ADCIRC and FVCOM) models. During 2008, the storm surge and coastal inundation in the Chesapeake Bay and the Outer Banks of North Carolina during Hurricane Isabel was simulated and the results compared in an independent but non-interoperable effort by partners. In 2009-2010, an additional model, SLOSH, was added; all five models were used to simulate the storm surge and coastal inundation in southwest Florida during Hurricane Charley, and the results were compared. Model inputs and outputs were designed in an interoperable fashion, using common model input data, parameterization, and coefficients, common model output formats using a common model data grid. Thirty scenarios were developed to test the sensitivity of the models to bathymetry, storm forcing, wind drag coefficient, bottom friction, Coriolis, 2D vs. 3D formulation, etc. Various types of model products, including time series of storm surge and maximum inundation over the entire model domain, were compared to each other and measured data. The detailed model simulations and comparisons required considerable computational and analysis time, but resulted in the discovery of how model features affected the model accuracy, leading to an overall improvement of all the models used. Testbed results showed differences in storm surge elevation and coastal inundation during both Isabel and Charley. While the simulated water level at the observed stations generally did not differ by more than 20% and no model appears to be consistently superior/inferior to any other model, there are more significant differences in the produced inundation maps. The computational efficiency differs considerably among the various models. Additional simulations of a large number (20+) of storms and domains are needed to better define the relative importance of different model parameters and to sort out the causes for subtle differences among the model results. More in-depth model intercomparison results will be forthcoming in a future paper.

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Proceedings of the International Conference on Estuarine and Coastal Modeling, p. 476-495