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Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


Meteotsunamis pose a unique threat to coastal communities and often lead to damage of coastal infrastructure, deluge of nearby property, and loss of life and injury. The Great Lakes are a known hot-spot of meteotsunami activity and serve as an important region for investigation of essential hydrodynamic processes and model forecast requirements in meteotsunami-induced coastal flooding. For this work, we developed an advanced hydrodynamic model and evaluate key model attributes and dynamic processes, including: (1) coastal model grid resolution and wetting and drying process in low-lying zones, (2) coastal infrastructure, including breakwaters and associated submerging and overtopping processes, (3) annual/seasonal (ambient) water level change, and (4) wind wave-current coupling. Numerical experiments are designed to evaluate the importance of these attributes to meteotsunami modeling, including a “representative storm” scenario in the context of regional climate change in which a meteotsunami wave is generated under high ambient lake-level conditions with a preferable wind direction and speed for wind-wave growth. Results demonstrate that accurate representation of coastal topography and fully resolving associated hydrodynamic processes are critical to forecasting the realistic hazards associated with meteotsunami events. As most of existing coastal forecast systems generally do not resolve many of these features due to insufficient model grid resolution or lack of essential model attributes, this work shows that calibrating or assessing existing forecast models against coastal water level gauges alone may result in underestimating the meteotsunami hazard, particularly when gauging stations are sparse and located behind harbor breakwaters or inside estuaries, which represent dampened or otherwise unrepresentative pictures of meteotsunami intensity. This work is the first hydrodynamic modeling of meteotsunami-induced coastal flooding for the Great Lakes, and serves as a template to guide where resources may be most beneficial in forecast system development and implementation.

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© The Author(s) 2021. Publisher’s version of record:

Publication Title

Natural Hazards

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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