Tropical cyclones that enter or form in the Gulf of Mexico generate storm surge and large waves that impact low-lying coastlines along the Gulf Coast. The Chandeleur Islands, located 161. km east of New Orleans, Louisiana, have endured numerous hurricanes that have passed nearby. Hurricane Katrina (landfall near Waveland MS, 29 Aug 2005) caused dramatic changes to the island elevation and shape. In this paper the predictability of hurricane-induced barrier island erosion and accretion is evaluated using a coupled hydrodynamic and morphodynamic model known as XBeach. Pre- and post-storm island topography was surveyed with an airborne lidar system. Numerical simulations utilized realistic surge and wave conditions determined from larger-scale hydrodynamic models. Simulations included model sensitivity tests with varying grid size and temporal resolutions. Model-predicted bathymetry/topography and post-storm survey data both showed similar patterns of island erosion, such as increased dissection by channels. However, the model under predicted the magnitude of erosion. Potential causes for under prediction include (1) errors in the initial conditions (the initial bathymetry/topography was measured three years prior to Katrina), (2) errors in the forcing conditions (a result of our omission of storms prior to Katrina and/or errors in Katrina storm conditions), and/or (3) physical processes that were omitted from the model (e.g., inclusion of sediment variations and bio-physical processes). ?? 2010.
Additional publication details
Numerical simulation of a low-lying barrier island's morphological response to Hurricane Katrina