Benchmarking an unstructured grid sediment model in an energetic estuary

Jesse E. Lopez, António M. Baptista

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


A sediment model coupled to the hydrodynamic model SELFE is validated against a benchmark combining a set of idealized tests and an application to a field-data rich energetic estuary. After sensitivity studies, model results for the idealized tests largely agree with previously reported results from other models in addition to analytical, semi-analytical, or laboratory results. Results of suspended sediment in an open channel test with fixed bottom are sensitive to turbulence closure and treatment for hydrodynamic bottom boundary. Results for the migration of a trench are very sensitive to critical stress and erosion rate, but largely insensitive to turbulence closure. The model is able to qualitatively represent sediment dynamics associated with estuarine turbidity maxima in an idealized estuary. Applied to the Columbia River estuary, the model qualitatively captures sediment dynamics observed by fixed stations and shipborne profiles. Representation of the vertical structure of suspended sediment degrades when stratification is underpredicted. Across all tests, skill metrics of suspended sediments lag those of hydrodynamics even when qualitatively representing dynamics. The benchmark is fully documented in an openly available repository to encourage unambiguous comparisons against other models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-48
Number of pages17
JournalOcean Modelling
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Columbia River
  • Estuaries
  • Model validation
  • Sediment dynamics
  • Sediment model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Oceanography
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Benchmarking an unstructured grid sediment model in an energetic estuary'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this