Chapter 31 Sensitivity and spin-up times of cohesive sediment transport models used to simulate bathymetric change

Proceedings in Marine Science

, , , and
Edited by:
Kusuda T.Yamanishi H.Gailani J.Z.Spearman J.
DOI: 10.1016/S1568-2692(08)80033-2



Bathymetric change in tidal environments is modulated by watershed sediment yield, hydrodynamic processes, benthic composition, and anthropogenic activities. These multiple forcings combine to complicate simple prediction of bathymetric change; therefore, numerical models are necessary to simulate sediment transport. Errors arise from these simulations, due to inaccurate initial conditions and model parameters. We investigated the response of bathymetric change to initial conditions and model parameters with a simplified zero-dimensional cohesive sediment transport model, a two-dimensional hydrodynamic/sediment transport model, and a tidally averaged box model. The zero-dimensional model consists of a well-mixed control volume subjected to a semidiurnal tide, with a cohesive sediment bed. Typical cohesive sediment parameters were utilized for both the bed and suspended sediment. The model was run until equilibrium in terms of bathymetric change was reached, where equilibrium is defined as less than the rate of sea level rise in San Francisco Bay (2.17 mm/year). Using this state as the initial condition, model parameters were perturbed 10% to favor deposition, and the model was resumed. Perturbed parameters included, but were not limited to, maximum tidal current, erosion rate constant, and critical shear stress for erosion. Bathymetric change was most sensitive to maximum tidal current, with a 10% perturbation resulting in an additional 1.4 m of deposition over 10 years. Re-establishing equilibrium in this model required 14 years. The next most sensitive parameter was the critical shear stress for erosion; when increased 10%, an additional 0.56 m of sediment was deposited and 13 years were required to re-establish equilibrium. The two-dimensional hydrodynamic/sediment transport model was calibrated to suspended-sediment concentration, and despite robust solution of hydrodynamic conditions it was unable to accurately hindcast bathymetric change. The tidally averaged box model was calibrated to bathymetric change data and shows rapidly evolving bathymetry in the first 10-20 years, though sediment supply and hydrodynamic forcing did not vary greatly. This initial burst of bathymetric change is believed to be model adjustment to initial conditions, and suggests a spin-up time of greater than 10 years. These three diverse modeling approaches reinforce the sensitivity of cohesive sediment transport models to initial conditions and model parameters, and highlight the importance of appropriate calibration data. Adequate spin-up time of the order of years is required to initialize models, otherwise the solution will contain bathymetric change that is not due to environmental forcings, but rather improper specification of initial conditions and model parameters. Temporally intensive bathymetric change data can assist in determining initial conditions and parameters, provided they are available. Computational effort may be reduced by selectively updating hydrodynamics and bathymetry, thereby allowing time for spin-up periods. ?? 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Chapter 31 Sensitivity and spin-up times of cohesive sediment transport models used to simulate bathymetric change
Series title:
Proceedings in Marine Science
Year Published:
Larger Work Type:
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Proceedings in Marine Science
First page:
Last page: