Assimilation of Wave and Current Data for Prediction of Inlet and River Mouth Dynamics  | SRI International

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Assimilation of Wave and Current Data for Prediction of Inlet and River Mouth Dynamics 

Coastal inlets and river mouths create dynamic, unpredictable environmental conditions that make it difficult to plan surface and subsurface ocean operations. SRI has developed technology to provide high-resolution estimates of nearshore oceanographic properties to improve predictions from nearshore wave and circulation models. 

River mouths and inlets are chokepoints in both a tactical and hydrodynamic sense because large magnitude currents, current gradients, and nearshore waves exhibit strong, nonlinear interactions. While these interactions and the resulting environmental conditions can be predicted using open-source computational models such as SWAN and Delft3D, the fidelity of such predictions is limited by the accuracy of the specification of boundary conditions, initial conditions and forcing. 

Working with investigators and data from the Office of Naval Research RIVET field experiment, SRI researchers have developed variational algorithms to assimilate local data for waves, tides and currents to improve these uncertain model inputs and bring predictions into agreement with the data. 

Researchers’ efforts focused on developing an approach for nesting Delft3D in arbitrary circulation models and a method for assimilating tide and velocity data for estimation of improved boundary and initial conditions. 

SRI also created an algorithm for using wave-buoy data to estimate offshore boundary conditions for the SWAN model. It can be run either as a stand-alone tool for estimation of waves only or embedded in Delft3D to capture wave-current interactions and wave-induced circulation. 

Research and development activities described were supported by Office of Naval Research Contract N0014-10-C-0507.