US Army Corps of Engineers
Engineer Research and Development Center

Coastal numerical models provide more precise answers than ever before

ERDC PAO
Published Jan. 24, 2019
Coastal numerical models provide more precise answers than ever before

Mitch Brown of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory introduces new features of the Coastal Inlets Research Program’s numerical models to participants of the CIRP Technology Transfer Workshop at the Detroit District.

Coastal numerical models provide more precise answers than ever before

Participants of the Coastal Inlets Research Program’s Technology Transfer Workshop held at the Detroit District in Fort Wayne, Michigan, 26-29 Nov 2018.

VICKSBURG, Miss. (Jan. 17, 2019) -- The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Coastal Inlets Research Program-developed numerical models are providing more precise answers than ever before to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Districts and stakeholders. Several new features were introduced at a training workshop hosted by the Detroit District in Fort Wayne, Michigan, in November 2018. Updated models include the Coastal Modeling System and the GenCade model within the Surface-Water Modeling System.

The CMS is an integrated two-dimensional numerical modeling system for simulating waves, current, water level, sediment transport and morphology change at coastal inlets and entrances. It was developed by CIRP and emphasizes navigation channel performance and sediment exchange between the inlet and adjacent beaches. Whereas GenCade is a one-dimensional model, which combines the engineering power of GENESIS and the regional processes capability of the Cascade model. CMS calculates shoreline change, wave-induced long-shore sand transport and morphology change at inlets on a local to regional scale and can be applied as a planning or engineering tool.

“By providing these enhanced tools to our customers, we can now address problems we couldn’t before,” said Richard Styles, a research oceanographer for the ERDC’s Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory. “As these models continue to do more and more, they become increasingly more attractive.”

In the CMS model, a new sediment mapping technique has been applied to track information of sediment migration and burial through the calculations of multiple-sized sediment transport in the littoral zone.

Other enhanced features are the high resolution and high fidelity models used to predict wave-induced shoreline erosion. These models examine the impact of individual wave velocity as opposed to averaged wave velocity.

“This helps show sediment transport and sediment build up,” said Styles. “By using high resolution and high fidelity models, we can get a better understanding of shoreline changes allowing us to do a better job of predicting erosion.”

CIRP model developers are also incorporating future sea-level rise scenarios in numerical model simulations, which can help analyze and predict shoreline changes, coastal flooding and erosion potential.

“These features make our models even more accurate and increase applicability across districts,” said Styles.

The CIRP is a research and development program at the ERDC that advances the state of knowledge and develops engineering technology for predicting the waves, current, sediment transport and morphology change at and around inlets. Products of the CIRP improve management and design of coastal inlets through increased reliability of actions and reduction in operation and maintenance costs. The CIRP takes a variety of approaches, including developing concepts and theory for all relevant time scales, numerical simulation, field data collection and laboratory experimentation. Getting these improved methods and tools in to the hands of practicing engineers and scientists within the Corps is critical to meeting its navigation mission; therefore, direct technology transfer remains a critical component to the success of the CIRP’s research and development mission.


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