Computational Hydraulics Group (CHG)

The Computational Hydraulics Group (CHG) at the Oden Institute investigates the use of high performance computing to significantly advance the state-of-the-art in coastal ocean models. We develop models to improve understanding of the mechanisms involved in tightly coupled wind, waves, circulation and geomorphology, develop high resolution descriptions of the physical domain and adaptively resolve energetic flow scales, and investigate accurate, robust and highly parallelizable numerical algorithms. The ADvanced CIRculation modeling framework (ADCIRC) is a finite element coastal ocean model developed through collaboration between CHG and the University of Notre Dame, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and the University of Oklahoma. The ADCIRC model has been implemented on NSF Track 2 HPC systems at the Texas Advanced Computing Center and on the NSF Teragrid.

Modeling hurricane storm surge: CHG researchers are at the forefront in modeling storm surge due to hurricanes and tropical storms. Predicting and studying coastal inundation due to hurricanes is a problem of critical importance to the United States. Hurricane Katrina alone was the costliest and 5th deadliest hurricane in history, with most of the devastation due to wind-driven flooding during the storm. The aftermath of this event and other recent hurricanes has led to a number of federally-mandated studies to determine what failed, the causes of failure, and how to prevent such catastrophes from happening again. Critical decisions will be made in the next decade on how to design better protection systems and improve emergency management practices in the event of future storms. Storm surge is caused by wind, atmospheric pressure gradients, tides, river flow, short-crested wind-waves, and rainfall. While storm surge computer models have been developed extensively over the past decade; only within the last few years have the algorithms, computational power and resolution been available to begin to model these events with any reasonable degree of accuracy.

Modeling the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: In addition to storm surge modeling, CHG research is applicable to other problems in coastal engineering and marine science, including tsunamis, water quality, shipping and ports, marine ecology, naval operations, weather and climate, and wetland degradation.

ADCIRC was used to model the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill during the summer of 2010. This project was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security in collaboration with UT Austin, The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and the University of Notre Dame. A particle tracking code was developed to simulate movement of the oil, specifically focusing on the near shore regions where ADCIRC provides very high resolution. ADCIRC circulation forecasts based on 72 hour meteorological forecasts were used to simulate surface oil movement over a 72 hour time window. Satellite imagery from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service was used to initialize the location of the surface oil every 24 hours. Current research is focused on validating ADCIRC computational forecasts against imagery of the spill obtained from satellites and from comparisons with field measurements.

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