Uncertainty in complex three-dimensional sediment transport models: equifinality in a model application of the Ems Estuary, the Netherlands

Dirk Sebastiaan van Maren, Katherine Cronin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Estuarine suspended sediment transport models are typically calibrated against suspended sediment concentration data. These data typically cover a limited range of the actual suspended sediment concentration dynamics, constrained in either time or space. As a result of these data limitations, the available data can be reproduced with complex 3D transport models through multiple sets of model calibration parameters. These various model parameter sets influence the relative importance of transport processes such as settling, deposition, erosion, or mixing. As a result, multiple model parameter sets may reproduce sediment dynamics in tidal channels (where most data is typically collected) with the same degree of accuracy but simulate notably different sediment concentration patterns elsewhere (e.g. on the tidal flats). Different combinations of model input parameters leading to the same result are known as equifinality. The effect of equifinality on predictive model capabilities is investigated with a complex three-dimensional sediment transport model of a turbid estuary which is subject to several human interventions. The effect of two human interventions (offshore disposal of dredged sediment and restoration of the tidal channel profile) was numerically examined with several equifinal model settings. The computed effect of these two human interventions was relatively weakly influenced by the model settings, strengthening confidence in the numerical model predictions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1665-1679
Number of pages15
JournalOcean Dynamics: theoretical, computational oceanography and monitoring
Volume66
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

Keywords

  • Ems Estuary
  • Equifinality
  • Model accuracy
  • Numerical modelling
  • Sediment transport
  • Uncertainty

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