intro story Coast / Estuary

Coast / Estuary

Coastal systems are among the most dynamic physical systems on earth and are subject to a large variety of forces. The morphodynamic changes occurring to coastlines worldwide are of great interest and importance. These changes occur as a result of the erosion of sediments, its subsequent transport as bed load or suspended load, and eventual deposition. 
Estuaries are partly enclosed water bodies that have an open connection to the coast. Estuaries generally have one or more branching channels, intertidal mudflats and/or salt marshes. Intertidal areas are of high ecological importance and trap sediments (sands, silts, clays and organic matter).
Within the Delft3D modelling package a large variation of coastal and estuarine physical and chemical processes can be simulated. These include waves, tidal propagation, wind- or wave-induced water level setup, flow induced by salinity or temperature gradients, sand and mud transport, water quality and changing bathymetry (morphology). Delft3D can also be used operationally e.g. storm, surge and algal bloom forecasting. 
On this discussion page you can post questions, research discussions or just share your experience about modelling coastal and/or estuarine systems with Delft3D FM. 




Sub groups
D-Flow Flexible Mesh
Cohesive sediments & muddy systems



Message Boards

How to decide the Reflection parameter alpha value? (flow)

Esther Espinoza, modified 2 Years ago.

How to decide the Reflection parameter alpha value? (flow)

Padawan Posts: 25 Join Date: 4/6/17 Recent Posts
Hi, I'm modelling water level for an estuary area (1 month) and I would like to know if you can explain me a little bit about the reflection parameter alpha that it's needed in the bounday section of the flow module. I've read the manual, but I'm not sure how to decide it's value or how big is the influence of that parameter on the results of the water level simulation.

Thank you
Bert Jagers, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: How to decide the Reflection parameter alpha value? (flow)

Jedi Knight Posts: 201 Join Date: 12/22/10 Recent Posts
Hi Esther,

For an estuary I would expect to implement an alpha value on the downstream (sea) water level boundary.

The alpha value suggested in the manual equation (9.76) for a water level boundary equals Td * sqrt(H/g) where Td is the time it takes for a free surface wave to travel from the left boundary to the right boundary of the model area, H is the water depth, and g is the gravitational acceleration (about 9.8).

Here the words "left" and "right" boundary refer to the typical upstream and downstream boundaries, but shorter characteristic distances that may reflect free surface waves may be appropriate instead. A free surface wave travels with U +/- sqrt(g*H) which is for small average velocity U well approximated by sqrt(g*H). The time Td then equals L / sqrt(g*H) where L is the aforementioned characteristic length. If we insert this approximation for Td in (9.76) the expression for alpha at the water level boundary becomes: L / g, that is the characteristic length divided by about 10.

For an estuary with characteristic length scale of 20 km we would thus preferably use an alpha value of 20000/10 = 2000 to avoid boundary reflections inside the domain. The larger the estuary, the large the alpha value. Now, the question arises: can we increase alpha without complications? Unfortunately, no.

By increasing alpha, the boundary starts also to dampen any variations that itself tries to send in. I believe that values up to about 1000 are usually safe, but I recommend to compare the the imposed boundary forcing signal with the observed signal at the boundary and check whether it corresponds satisfactorily for the alpha value that you would like to use. Note that it will not match perfectly if the observation point is inside the grid whereas the forcing is imposed in a virtual grid cell just outside the grid.

Hope this helps,

Esther Espinoza, modified 2 Years ago.

RE: How to decide the Reflection parameter alpha value? (flow)

Padawan Posts: 25 Join Date: 4/6/17 Recent Posts
Thank you so much Bert, it was really helpful!