Analysis, implementation, and verification of a discontinuous galerkin method for prediction of storm surges and coastal deformation




Mirabito, Christopher Michael

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Storm surge, the pileup of seawater occurring as a result of high surface stresses and strong currents generated by extreme storm events such as hurricanes, is known to cause greater loss of life than these storms' associated winds. For example, inland flooding from the storm surge along the Gulf Coast during Hurricane Katrina killed hundreds of people. Previous storms produced even larger death tolls. Simultaneously, dune, barrier island, and channel erosion taking place during a hurricane leads to the removal of major flow controls, which significantly affects inland inundation. Also, excessive sea bed scouring around pilings can compromise the structural integrity of bridges, levees, piers, and buildings.

Modeling these processes requires tightly coupling a bed morphology equation to the shallow water equations (SWE). Discontinuous Galerkin finite element methods (DGFEMs) are a natural choice for modeling this coupled system, given the need to solve these problems on large, complicated, unstructured computational meshes, as well as the desire to implement hp-adaptivity for capturing the dynamic features of the solution.

Comprehensive modeling of these processes in the coastal zone presents several challenges and open questions. Most existing hydrodynamic models use a fixed-bed approach; the bottom is not allowed to evolve in response to the fluid motion. With respect to movable-bed models, there is no single, generally accepted mathematical model in use. Numerical challenges include coupling models of processes that exhibit disparate time scales during fair weather, but possibly similar time scales during intense storms.

The main goals of this dissertation include implementing a robust, efficient, tightly-coupled morphological model using the local discontinuous Galerkin (LDG) method within the existing Advanced Circulation (ADCIRC) modeling framework, performing systematic code and model verification (using test cases with known solutions, proven convergence rates, or well-documented physical behavior), analyzing the stability and accuracy of the implemented numerical scheme by way of a priori error estimates, and ultimately laying some of the necessary groundwork needed to simultaneously model storm surges and bed morphodynamics during extreme storm events.



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