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Tidal intrusion within a mega delta: an unstructured grid modelling approach

Bricheno, Lucy M.; Wolf, Judith; Islam, Saiful. 2016 Tidal intrusion within a mega delta: an unstructured grid modelling approach. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 182 (A). 12-26. 10.1016/j.ecss.2016.09.014

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Abstract/Summary

The finite volume community ocean model (FVCOM) has been applied to the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) delta in the northern part of the Bay of Bengal in order to simulate tidal hydrodynamics and freshwater flow in a complex river system. The delta region is data-poor in observations of both bathymetry and water level; making it a challenge for accurate hydrodynamic models be configured for and validated in this area. This is the first 3D baroclinic model covering the whole GBM delta from deep water beyond the shelf break to 250 km inland, the limit of tidal penetration. This paper examines what controls tidal penetration from the open coast into an intricate system of river channels. A modelling approach is used to improve understanding of the hydrodynamics of the GBM delta system. Tidal penetration is controlled by a combination of bathymetry, channel geometry, bottom friction, and river flow. The simulated tides must be validated before this delta model is used further to investigate baroclinic processes, river salinity and future change in this area. The performance of FVCOM tidal model configuration is evaluated at a range of sites in order to assess its ability to capture water levels which vary over both a tidal and seasonal cycle. FVCOM is seen to capture the leading tidal constituents well at coastal tide gauge stations, with small root-mean-squared errors of 10 cm on average. Inland, the model compares favourably with twice daily observed water levels at thirteen stations where it is able to capture both tidal and annual timescales in the estuarine system. When the river discharge is particularly strong, the tidal range can be reduced as the tide and river are in direct competition. The bathymetry is found to be the most influential control on water levels within the delta, though tidal penetration can be significantly affected by the model's bottom roughness, and the inclusion of large river discharge. We discuss the generic problem of implementing a model in a data-poor region and the challenge of validating a hydrodynamic model from the open coast to narrow river channels.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.ecss.2016.09.014
ISSN: 02727714
Date made live: 28 Sep 2016 10:14 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/514627

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