Effects of self-attraction and loading at a regional scale: A test case for the Northwest European Shelf

Maialen Irazoqui Apecechea*, Martin Verlaan, Firmijn Zijl, Camille Le Coz, H Kernkamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The impact of the self-attraction and loading effect (SAL) in a regional 2D barotropic tidal model has been assessed, a term with acknowledged and well-understood importance for global models but omitted for boundary-forced, regional models, for which the implementation of SAL is non-trivial due to its non-local nature. In order to understand the impact of the lack of SAL effects in a regional scale, we have forced a regional model of the Northwest European Continental Shelf and the North Sea (continental shelf model (CSM)) with the SAL potential field derived from a global model (GTSM), in the form of a pressure field. Impacts have been studied in an uncalibrated setup and with only tidal forcing activated, in order to isolate effects. Additionally, the usually adopted simple SAL parameterization, in which the SAL contribution to the total tide is parameterized as a percentage of the barotropic pressure gradient (typically chosen 10%), is also implemented and compared to the results obtained with a full SAL computation. A significant impact on M2 representation is observed in the English Channel, Irish Sea and the west (UK East coast) and south (Belgian and Dutch Coast) of the North Sea, with an impact of up to 20 cm in vector difference terms. The impact of SAL translates into a consistent M2 amplitude and propagation speeds reduction throughout the domain. Results using the beta approximation, with an optimal domain-wide constant value of 1.5%, show a somewhat comparable impact in phase but opposite direction of the impact in amplitude, increasing amplitudes everywhere. In relative terms, both implementations lead to a reduction of the tidal representation error in comparison with the reference run without SAL, with the full SAL approach showing further impacted, improved results. Although the overprediction of tidal amplitudes and propagation speeds in the reference run might have additional sources like the lack of additional dissipative processes and non-considered bottom friction settings, results show an overall significant impact, most remarkable in tidal phases. After showing evidence of the SAL impact in regional models, the question of how to include this physical process in them in an efficient way arises, since SAL is a non-local effect and depends on the instantaneous water levels over the whole ocean, which is non-trivial to implement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)729-749
Number of pages21
JournalOcean Dynamics: theoretical, computational oceanography and monitoring
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventThe 18th Joint Numerical Sea Modelling Group Conference - Oslo, Norway
Duration: 10 May 201612 May 2016

Bibliographical note

This article is part of the Topical Collection on the 18th Joint Numerical Sea Modelling Group Conference, Oslo, Norway, 10–12 May 2016


  • Northwest European Shelf
  • Self-attraction and loading
  • Tide surge


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