Demonstration of an Optimized Finite Element Mesh for Tide and Storm Surge

Modeling Applications in the Western North Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea


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The figure presented below displays the boundary of the Western North Atlantic Tidal (WNAT) model domain, which encompasses the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and the northern portion of the Atlantic Ocean found west of the 60°W meridian. A series of four finite element meshes has been developed in order to provide a spatial description of this large-scale computational domain, with the motivation that the final product of this mesh generation work would lead to a highly efficient computational mesh which could be used for tide and storm surge modeling applications in the western North Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea (see Kojima [2005]). The end result of the mesh development process yielded an optimized finite element mesh for the WNAT model domain, whereby "optimized" is used here to emphasize the enhanced computational efficiency of this final computational mesh (i.e., a [Courant number-based] time step of 30 seconds may be applied in tidal and storm surge simulations). While this optimized finite element mesh has allowed for a greater computational efficiency, an evaluation of its accuracy (on a domain-wide basis) is required in order to justify its usage for tide and storm surge modeling applications in the western North Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea. To this end, 151 tidal gaging stations are identified throughout the WNAT model domain (indicated by the red dots in the figure presented below) in order to provide a means by which to compare simulated and historical tidal data. As a demonstration of this accuracy evaluation, in the figure presented below, click on the 10° by 10° grid box of interest to view (an inset of) the optimized finite element mesh and its performace at selected tidal gaging stations.



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