Modeling Tidal Waves and Ocean Surges in Coastal Channels and Bays

Team: 97

School: Los Alamos High

Area of Science: Earth Sciences


Problem Definition

         Oceanic natural disasters such as tsunamis can act unexpectedly and dangerously in coastal channels and bays. An example of this is the recent earthquake-triggered tsunami in Indonesia that devastated Palu. It has many complex interactions, but the motion of water can be predicted with a few simple differential equations. Further damage and danger from oceanic natural disasters could be averted with the application of this to predict the outcome of events such as tsunamis. In this project, I aim to create a computer model to predict what might happen in such an event.

Problem Solution

         The Non-Linear Shallow Water Equations (NLSWE) are a set of differential equations approximating the behavior and motion of water within a system. I will create a computer model in which I simulate a wave in a real coastal location on Earth. This will show the possible danger zones of the area. I will do this by discretizing the NLSWE, meaning incrementally changing the state of the system.

Progress to Date

         I have constructed a model discretizing the NLSWE. My code is in python with numpy. I have run several simulations of simple interactions such as a long wave deflecting off a round island, 2 waves bouncing back and forth between boundaries and interacting, a water peak collapsing and spreading out, and a small scale version of a wave propagating outwards and interacting with multiple islands with complicated shapes. I have also been able to download and process bathymetry datasets, which contain data about the depth of water in the ocean. I have done a small-scale simulation of a wave propagating outwards in a portion of a bathymetry dataset, meaning the real geography of a location.

Expected Outcomes

         I expect to be able to predict the outcome of water-borne natural disasters with reasonable accuracy in where and how much damage is done.

    Works Cited

Team Members:

  Robert Strauss
  logan dare

Sponsoring Teacher: NA

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