The Effects of Spatial Resolution and Dimensionality on Modeling Braided River Hydraulics

Thursday, 17 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Elizabeth H Altenau1, Tamlin Pavelsky1 and Paul D Bates2, (1)University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States, (2)University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom
Braided rivers are challenging features to quantify due to their dynamic morphology and dominance in remote locations. Advances in hydrodynamic modeling and remote sensing over the past few decades offer opportunities to explore braided river processes at finer resolutions with increased efficiency. These methods allow us to address questions such as: What model structure is necessary to accurately reproduce inundation extent and water surface elevations in a braided river? What effects do the smaller channels within a braided river have on simulating wave propagation and slope? How much accuracy is lost as model resolution and dimension are decreased? Here, we use the raster-based hydrodynamic model LISFLOOD-FP to simulate water surface elevations, inundation extent, and slope at various resolutions and dimensions over a ~90 km reach of the Tanana River, Alaska. Model input and validation data were collected during two field campaigns in the summers of 2013 and 2015. Field data included water surface elevation, discharge, velocity, slope, and bathymetric measurements. Six models are run to simulate flood waves across the study reach over a two-month timespan. The model structures vary in complexity from a full 2D model at 10 m resolution to a coupled 1D/2D model at 100 m resolution where the channel is represented in 1D by an effective centerline within a 2D floodplain grid. Results from the different models are compared to assess the effects on inundation extent, wave celerity, water elevations and slope. Digital elevation model (DEM) quality and resolution have major effects on inundation extent and water surface elevations, while model dimensionality has a larger effect on wave celerity and slope. Future work will compare model outputs with AirSWOT data, 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.