George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Uncertainty in hurricane surge simulation due to land cover specification

by Celso Moller Ferreira

Publication Details MORE LESS

  • Published Date: January 1, 2014
  • Volume/Issue: 114
  • Publisher: American Geophysical Union


storm surge is one of the most costly natural hazards in the United States. Numerical modeling to predict and estimate hurricane surge flooding is currently widely used for research, planning, decision making, and emergency response. Land cover plays an important role in hurricane surge numerical modeling because of its impacts on the forcing (changes in wind momentum transfer to water column) and dissipation (bottom friction) mechanisms of storm surge. In this study, the hydrodynamic model ADCIRC was used to investigate predicted surge response in bays on the central and lower Texas coast using different land cover data sets: (1) Coastal Change Analysis Program for 1996, 2001, and 2006; (2) the National Land Cover Dataset for 1992, 2001, and 2006; and (3) the National Wetlands Inventory for 1993. Hypothetical storms were simulated with varying the storm track, forward speed, central pressure, and radius to maximum wind, totaling 140 simulations. Data set choice impacts the mean of maximum surges throughout the study area, and variability in the surge prediction due to land cover data set choice strongly depends on storm characteristics and geographical location of the bay in relation to storm track. Errors in surge estimation due to land cover choice are approximately 7% of the surge value, with change in surge prediction varying by as much as 1 m, depending on location and storm condition. Finally, the impact of land cover choice on the accuracy of simulating surges for Hurricane Bret in 1999 is evaluated.

Other Contributors

Francisco Olivera, Lena Irish