Nearshore wave and flow model results are shown to exhibit a strong sensitivity to the resolution of the input bathymetry. In this analysis, bathymetric resolution was varied by applying smoothing filters to high-resolution survey data to produce a number of bathymetric grid surfaces. We demonstrate that the sensitivity of model-predicted wave height and flow to variations in bathymetric resolution had different characteristics. Wave height predictions were most sensitive to resolution of cross-shore variability associated with the structure of nearshore sandbars. Flow predictions were most sensitive to the resolution of intermediate scale alongshore variability associated with the prominent sandbar rhythmicity. Flow sensitivity increased in cases where a sandbar was closer to shore and shallower. Perhaps the most surprising implication of these results is that the interpolation and smoothing of bathymetric data could be optimized differently for the wave and flow models. We show that errors between observed and modeled flow and wave heights are well predicted by comparing model simulation results using progressively filtered bathymetry to results from the highest resolution simulation. The damage done by over smoothing or inadequate sampling can therefore be estimated using model simulations. We conclude that the ability to quantify prediction errors will be useful for supporting future data assimilation efforts that require this information.
Additional publication details
The effect of bathymetric filtering on nearshore process model results