Data assimilation for parameter estimation in coastal ocean hydrodynamics modeling
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Coastal ocean models are used for a vast array of applications. These applications include modeling tidal and coastal flows, waves, and extreme events, such as tsunamis and hurricane storm surges. Tidal and coastal flows are the primary application of this work as they play a critical role in many practical research areas such as contaminant transport, navigation through intracoastal waterways, development of coastal structures (e.g. bridges, docks, and breakwaters), commercial fishing, and planning and execution of military operations in marine environments, in addition to recreational aquatic activities. Coastal ocean models are used to determine tidal amplitudes, time intervals between low and high tide, and the extent of the ebb and flow of tidal waters, often at specific locations of interest. However, modeling tidal flows can be quite complex, as factors such as the configuration of the coastline, water depth, ocean floor topography, and hydrographic and meteorological impacts can have significant effects and must all be considered. Water levels and currents in the coastal ocean can be modeled by solv- ing the shallow water equations. The shallow water equations contain many parameters, and the accurate estimation of both tides and storm surge is dependent on the accuracy of their specification. Of particular importance are the parameters used to define the bottom stress in the domain of interest . These parameters are often heterogeneous across the seabed of the domain. Their values cannot be measured directly and relevant data can be expensive and difficult to obtain. The parameter values must often be inferred and the estimates are often inaccurate, or contain a high degree of uncertainty . In addition, as is the case with many numerical models, coastal ocean models have various other sources of uncertainty, including the approximate physics, numerical discretization, and uncertain boundary and initial conditions. Quantifying and reducing these uncertainties is critical to providing more reliable and robust storm surge predictions. It is also important to reduce the resulting error in the forecast of the model state as much as possible. The accuracy of coastal ocean models can be improved using data assimilation methods. In general, statistical data assimilation methods are used to estimate the state of a model given both the original model output and observed data. A major advantage of statistical data assimilation methods is that they can often be implemented non-intrusively, making them relatively straightforward to implement. They also provide estimates of the uncertainty in the predicted model state. Unfortunately, with the exception of the estimation of initial conditions, they do not contribute to the information contained in the model. The model error that results from uncertain parameters is reduced, but information about the parameters in particular remains unknown. Thus, the other commonly used approach to reducing model error is parameter estimation. Historically, model parameters such as the bottom stress terms have been estimated using variational methods. Variational methods formulate a cost functional that penalizes the difference between the modeled and observed state, and then minimize this functional over the unknown parameters. Though variational methods are an effective approach to solving inverse problems, they can be computationally intensive and difficult to code as they generally require the development of an adjoint model. They also are not formulated to estimate parameters in real time, e.g. as a hurricane approaches landfall. The goal of this research is to estimate parameters defining the bottom stress terms using statistical data assimilation methods. In this work, we use a novel approach to estimate the bottom stress terms in the shallow water equations, which we solve numerically using the Advanced Circulation (ADCIRC) model. In this model, a modified form of the 2-D shallow water equations is discretized in space by a continuous Galerkin finite element method, and in time by finite differencing. We use the Manning’s n formulation to represent the bottom stress terms in the model, and estimate various fields of Manning’s n coefficients by assimilating synthetic water elevation data using a square root Kalman filter. We estimate three types of fields defined on both an idealized inlet and a more realistic spatial domain. For the first field, a Manning’s n coefficient is given a constant value over the entire domain. For the second, we let the Manning’s n coefficient take two distinct values, letting one define the bottom stress in the deeper water of the domain and the other define the bottom stress in the shallower region. And finally, because bottom stress terms are generally spatially varying parameters, we consider the third field as a realization of a stochastic process. We represent a realization of the process using a Karhunen-Lo`ve expansion, and then seek to estimate the coefficients of the expansion. We perform several observation system simulation experiments, and find that we are able to accurately estimate the bottom stress terms in most of our test cases. Additionally, we are able to improve forecasts of the model state in every instance. The results of this study show that statistical data assimilation is a promising approach to parameter estimation.