A novel approach for the assessment of morphological evolution based on observed water levels in tide-dominated estuaries

Cai, Huayang; Zhang, Ping; Garel, Erwan; Matte, Pascal; Hu, Shuai; Liu, Feng; Yang, Qingshu

Assessing the impacts of both natural (e.g. tidal forcing from the ocean) and human-induced changes (e.g. dredging for navigation and land reclamation) on estuarine morphology is particularly important for the protection and management of the estuarine environment. In this study, a novel analytical approach is proposed for the assessment of estuarine morphological evolution in terms of tidally averaged depth on the basis of the observed water levels along the estuary. The key lies in deriving a relationship between wave celerity and tidal damping or amplification. For given observed water levels at two gauging stations, it is possible to have a first estimation of both wave celerity (distance divided by tidal travelling time) and tidal damping or amplification rate (tidal range difference divided by distance), which can then be used to predict the morphological changes via an inverse analytical model for tidal hydrodynamics. The proposed method is applied to the Lingdingyang Bay of the Pearl River Estuary, located on the southern coast of China, to analyse the historical development of the tidal hydrodynamics and morphological evolution. The analytical results show surprisingly good correspondence with observed water depth and volume in this system. The merit of the proposed method is that it provides a simple approach for understanding the decadal evolution of the estuarine morphology through the use of observed water levels, which are usually available and can be easily measured.

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Cai, Huayang / Zhang, Ping / Garel, Erwan / et al: A novel approach for the assessment of morphological evolution based on observed water levels in tide-dominated estuaries. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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