Improving Channel Hydrological Connectivity in Coastal Hydrodynamic Models With Remotely Sensed Channel Networks

TitleImproving Channel Hydrological Connectivity in Coastal Hydrodynamic Models With Remotely Sensed Channel Networks
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsZhang X, Wright K, Passalacqua P, Simard M, Fagherazzi S
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
Keywordschannel geometry; coastal numerical model; cost function; flow propagation; model performance; remote-sensed channel network

Coastal wetlands are nourished by rivers and periodical tidal flows through complex, interconnected channels. However, in hydrodynamic models, channel dimensions with respect to model grid size and uncertainties in topography preclude the correct propagation of tidal and riverine signals. It is therefore crucial to enhance channel geomorphic connectivity and simplify sub-channel features based on remotely sensed networks for practical computational applications. Here, we utilize channel networks derived from diverse remote sensing imagery as a baseline to build a ∼10 m resolution hydrodynamic model that covers the Wax Lake Delta and adjacent wetlands (∼360 km2) in coastal Louisiana, USA. In this richly gauged system, intensive calibrations are conducted with 18 synchronous field-observations of water levels taken in 2016, and discharge data taken in 2021. We modify channel geometry, targeting realism in channel connectivity. The results show that a minimum channel depth of 2 m and a width of four grid elements (approximatively 40 m) are required to enable a realistic tidal propagation in wetland channels. The optimal depth for tidal propagation can be determined by a simplified cost function method that evaluates the competition between flow travel time and alteration of the volume of the channels. The integration of high spatial-resolution models and remote sensing imagery provides a general framework to improve models performance in salt marshes, mangroves, deltaic wetlands, and tidal flats.

Citation Keyzhang_improving_2022