Parameter sensitivity and uncertainty analysis for a storm surge and wave model
Abstract. Development and simulation of synthetic hurricane tracks is a common methodology used to estimate hurricane hazards in the absence of empirical coastal surge and wave observations. Such methods typically rely on numerical models to translate stochastically generated hurricane wind and pressure forcing into coastal surge and wave estimates. The model output uncertainty associated with selection of appropriate model parameters must therefore be addressed. The computational overburden of probabilistic surge hazard estimates is exacerbated by the high dimensionality of numerical surge and wave models. We present a model parameter sensitivity analysis of the Delft3D model for the simulation of hazards posed by Hurricane Bob (1991) utilizing three theoretical wind distributions (NWS23, modified Rankine, and Holland). The sensitive model parameters (of 11 total considered) include wind drag, the depth-induced breaking γB, and the bottom roughness. Several parameters show no sensitivity (threshold depth, eddy viscosity, wave triad parameters, and depth-induced breaking αB) and can therefore be excluded to reduce the computational overburden of probabilistic surge hazard estimates. The sensitive model parameters also demonstrate a large number of interactions between parameters and a nonlinear model response. While model outputs showed sensitivity to several parameters, the ability of these parameters to act as tuning parameters for calibration is somewhat limited as proper model calibration is strongly reliant on accurate wind and pressure forcing data. A comparison of the model performance with forcings from the different wind models is also presented.