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PhD defence | Derek Steinmoeller, High-Order Numerical Methods in Lake ModellingExport this event to calendar

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 — 10:00 AM EDT

MC 6486

Candidate

Derek Steinmoeller, Applied Math, University of Waterloo

Title

High-Order Numerical Methods in Lake Modelling

Abstract

The physical processes in lakes remain largely misunderstood despite successful data collection from a variety of sources spanning several decades. Although numerical models are already frequently employed to simulate the physics of lakes, especially in the context of water quality management, improved methods are necessary to better capture the wide array of dynamically important physical processes, spanning length scales from ~ 10 km (basin-scale oscillations) - - 1 m (short internal waves). In this thesis, high-order numerical methods are explored for specialized model equations of lakes, so that their use can be taken under consideration in the next generation of more sophisticated models that will better capture important small scale features than their present day counterparts.

The full three-dimensional incompressible density-stratified Navier-Stokes equations remain too computationally expensive to be solved for situations that involve both complicated geometries and require resolution of features at length-scales spanning four orders of magnitude. Simplified model equations are thus the only way that numerical lake modelling can be carried out at present time, and progress can be made by seeking intelligent parameterizations as a means of capturing more physics within the framework of such simplified equation sets. In this thesis, we employ the long-accepted practice of sub-dividing the lake into vertical layers of different constant densities as an approximation to continuous vertical stratification. We build on this approach by including weakly non-hydrostatic dispersive correction terms in the model equations in order to parameterize the effects of small vertical accelerations that are often disregarded by operational models. Favouring the inclusion of weakly non-hydrostatic effects over the more popular hydrostatic approximation allows these models to capture the emergence of small-scale internal wave phenomena, such as internal solitary waves and undular bores, that are missed by purely hydrostatic models.

The Fourier and Chebyshev pseudospectral methods are employed for these weakly non-hydrostatic layered models in simple idealized lake geometries, e.g., doubly periodic domains, periodic channels, and annular domains, for a set of test problems relevant to lake dynamics since they offer excellent resolution characteristics at minimal memory costs. This feature makes them an excellent benchmark to compare other methods against. The Discontinuous Galerkin Finite Element Method (DG-FEM) is then explored as a mid- to high-order method that can be used in arbitrary lake geometries. The DG-FEM can be interpreted as a domain-decomposition extension of a polynomial pseudospectral method and shares many of the same attractive features, such as fast convergence rates and the ability to resolve small-scale features with a relatively low number of grid points when compared to a low-order method. The DG-FEM is further complemented by certain desirable attributes it shares with the finite volume method, such as the freedom to specify upwind-biased numerical flux functions for advection-dominated flows, the flexibility to deal with complicated geometries, and the notion that each element (or cell) can be regarded as a control volume for conserved fluid quantities. Practical implementation details of the numerical methods used in this thesis are discussed, and the various modelling and methodology choices that have been made in the course of this work are justified as the difficulties that these choices address are revealed to the reader. Theoretical calculations are intermittently carried out throughout the thesis to help improve intuition in situations where numerical methods alone fall short of giving complete explanations of the physical processes under consideration.

Location 
University of Waterloo
MC 6486

,
Canada

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