Adcirc, shallow water equations, remote sensing, tides, storm surge, surface roughness, manning's n, effective roughness length, canopy, lidar, sar, wetting and drying, terrain


This dissertation investigates the use of remotely sensed data in coastal tide and inundation models, specifically how these data could be more effectively integrated into model construction and performance assessment techniques. It includes a review of numerical wetting and drying algorithms, a method for constructing a seamless digital terrain model including the handling of tidal datums, an investigation into the accuracy of land use / land cover (LULC) based surface roughness parameterization schemes, an application of a cutting edge remotely sensed inundation detection method to assess the performance of a tidal model, and a preliminary investigation into using 3-dimensional airborne laser scanning data to parameterize surface roughness. A thorough academic review of wetting and drying algorithms employed by contemporary numerical tidal models was conducted. Since nearly all population centers and valuable property are located in the overland regions of the model domain, the coastal models must adequately describe the inundation physics here. This is accomplished by techniques that generally fall into four categories: Thin film, Element removal, Depth extrapolation, and Negative depth. While nearly all wetting and drying algorithms can be classified as one of the four types, each model is distinct and unique in its actual implementation. The use of spatial elevation data is essential to accurate coastal modeling. Remotely sensed LiDAR is the standard data source for constructing topographic digital terrain models (DTM). Hydrographic soundings provide bathymetric elevation information. These data are combined to form a seamless topobathy surface that is the foundation for distributed coastal models. A three-point inverse distance weighting method was developed in order to account for the spatial variability of bathymetry data referenced to tidal datums. This method was applied to the Tampa Bay region of Florida in order to produce a seamless topobathy DTM. Remotely sensed data also contribute to the parameterization of surface roughness. It is used to develop land use / land cover (LULC) data that is in turn used to specify spatially distributed bottom friction and aerodynamic roughness parameters across the model domain. However, these parameters are continuous variables that are a function of the size, shape and density of the terrain and above-ground obstacles. By using LULC data, much of the variation specific to local areas is generalized due to the categorical nature of the data. This was tested by comparing surface roughness parameters computed based on field measurements to those assigned by LULC data at 24 sites across Florida. Using a t-test to quantify the comparison, it was proven that the parameterizations are significantly different. Taking the field measured parameters as ground truth, it is evident that parameterizing surface roughness based on LULC data is deficient. In addition to providing input parameters, remotely sensed data can also be used to assess the performance of coastal models. Traditional methods of model performance testing include harmonic resynthesis of tidal constituents, water level time series analysis, and comparison to measured high water marks. A new performance assessment that measures a model's ability to predict the extent of inundation was applied to a northern Gulf of Mexico tidal model. The new method, termed the synergetic method, is based on detecting inundation area at specific points in time using satellite imagery. This detected inundation area is compared to that predicted by a time-synchronized tidal model to assess the performance of model in this respect. It was shown that the synergetic method produces performance metrics that corroborate the results of traditional methods and is useful in assessing the performance of tidal and storm surge models. It was also shown that the subject tidal model is capable of correctly classifying pixels as wet or dry on over 85% of the sample areas. Lastly, since it has been shown that parameterizing surface roughness using LULC data is deficient, progress toward a new parameterization scheme based on 3-dimensional LiDAR point cloud data is presented. By computing statistics for the entire point cloud along with the implementation of moving window and polynomial fit approaches, empirical relationships were determined that allow the point cloud to estimate surface roughness parameters. A multi-variate regression approach was chosen to investigate the relationship(s) between the predictor variables (LiDAR statistics) and the response variables (surface roughness parameters). It was shown that the empirical fit is weak when comparing the surface roughness parameters to the LiDAR data. The fit was improved by comparing the LiDAR to the more directly measured source terms of the equations used to compute the surface roughness parameters. Future work will involve using these empirical relationships to parameterize a model in the northern Gulf of Mexico and comparing the hydrodynamic results to those of the same model parameterized using contemporary methods. In conclusion, through the work presented herein, it was demonstrated that incorporating remotely sensed data into coastal models provides many benefits including more accurate topobathy descriptions, the potential to provide more accurate surface roughness parameterizations, and more insightful performance assessments. All of these conclusions were achieved using data that is readily available to the scientific community and, with the exception of the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) from the Radarsat-1 project used in the inundation detection method, are available free of charge. Airborne LiDAR data are extremely rich sources of information about the terrain that can be exploited in the context of coastal modeling. The data can be used to construct digital terrain models (DTMs), assist in the analysis of satellite remote sensing data, and describe the roughness of the landscape thereby maximizing the cost effectiveness of the data acquisition.


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Graduation Date





Hagen, Scott


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering

Degree Program

Civil Engineering








Release Date

May 2012

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering and Computer Science;Engineering and Computer Science -- Dissertations, Academic