Two dimensional hydrodynamic modeling of a high latitude braided river

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Elizabeth Humphries, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States, Tamlin Pavelsky, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, United States and Paul D Bates, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom
Rivers are a fundamental resource to physical, ecologic and human systems, yet quantification of river flow in high-latitude environments remains limited due to the prevalence of complex morphologies, remote locations and sparse in situ monitoring equipment. Advances in hydrodynamic modeling and remote sensing technology allow us to address questions such as: How well can two-dimensional models simulate a flood wave in a highly 3-dimensional braided river environment, and how does the structure of such a flood wave differ from flow down a similar-sized single-channel river? Here, we use the raster-based hydrodynamic model LISFLOOD-FP to simulate flood waves, discharge, water surface height, and velocity measurements over a ~70 km reach of the Tanana River in Alaska. In order to use LISFLOOD-FP a digital elevation model (DEM) fused with detailed bathymetric data is required. During summer 2013, we surveyed 220,000 bathymetric points along the study reach using an echo sounder system connected to a high-precision GPS unit. The measurements are interpolated to a smooth bathymetric surface, using Topo to Raster interpolation, and combined with an existing five meter DEM (Alaska IfSAR) to create a seamless river terrain model. Flood waves are simulated using varying complexities in model solvers, then compared to gauge records and water logger data to assess major sources of model uncertainty. Velocity and flow direction maps are also assessed and quantified for detailed analysis of braided channel flow. The most accurate model output occurs with using the full two-dimensional model structure, and major inaccuracies appear to be related to DEM quality and roughness values. Future work will intercompare model outputs with extensive ground measurements and new data from AirSWOT, an airborne analog for the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission, which aims to provide high-resolution measurements of terrestrial and ocean water surface elevations globally.