Validation of a coupled wave-flow model in a high-energy setting: The mouth of the Columbia River

Elias, E. P., Gelfenbaum, G., & Van der Westhuysen, A. J. (2012). Validation of a coupled wave‐flow model in a high‐energy setting: The mouth of the Columbia River. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans (1978–2012), 117(C9).


A monthlong time series of wave, current, salinity, and suspended-sediment measurements was made at five sites on a transect across the Mouth of Columbia River (MCR). These data were used to calibrate and evaluate the performance of a coupled hydrodynamic and wave model for the MCR based on the Delft3D modeling system. The MCR is a dynamic estuary inlet in which tidal currents, river discharge, and wave-driven currents are all important. Model tuning consisted primarily of spatial adjustments to bottom drag coefficients. In combination with (near-) default parameter settings, the MCR model application is able to simulate the dominant features in the tidal flow, salinity and wavefields observed in field measurements. The wave-orbital averaged method for representing the current velocity profile in the wave model is considered the most realistic for the MCR. The hydrodynamic model is particularly effective in reproducing the observed vertical residual and temporal variations in current structure. Density gradients introduce the observed and modeled reversal of the mean flow at the bed and augment mean and peak flow in the upper half of the water column. This implies
that sediment transport during calmer summer conditions is controlled by density stratification and is likely net landward due to the reversal of flow near the bed. The correspondence between observed and modeled hydrodynamics makes this application a tool to investigate hydrodynamics and associated sediment transport.