EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Advanced modelling of wave penetration in ports

Konstantina Aikaterini Maroudi and Sebastiaan Reijmerink
Konstantina Aikaterini Maroudi and Sebastiaan Reijmerink
  • Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands (,

Wave penetration is a challenge for hydraulic engineers as it governs vessels’ sailing and mooring and regulates port operations. A complete approach to describe this phenomenon is by a physical scale model, which is time consuming and expensive. Therefore, a numerical model is a valid alternative. In this study, wave penetration is simulated with the non-hydrostatic model SWASH (Zijlema, 2011). To validate the model, part of an open benchmark dataset of physical scale model tests (Deltares, 2016) is used. This research addresses regular waves conditions and a simple harbour basin layout, in which reflection and diffraction are the main wave processes. This study assesses SWASH’s capability to model these processes, separately and in combination, in the full harbour layout.

1. Methodology

Reflection outside and inside the harbour is studied by two simplified 1D SWASH models, while diffraction inside the harbour by a simplified 2D model. The final SWASH model represents the full harbour layout. In all the models the water level time series at the output locations are compared qualitatively to the respective series measured at the wave gauges. Moreover, the measured steady state wave height is compared to the SWASH outputs. The “Difference”, Eq. (1), is computed to evaluate the model accuracy and to quantify the relative importance of each wave process.

Difference/diff.=(HSWASH,mean-Hmeasured,mean)/Hmeasured,mean  (1)

Where HSWASH,mean ; Hmeasured,mean : mean steady state wave height obtained by SWASH or measured respectively [m].

2. Results

Although the reflection trends are reproduced qualitatively in SWASH, the exact steady state wave height values may deviate significantly (diff.>30%). Moreover, the initial diffraction trends are also identified in SWASH despite their short duration in the measurements. Regarding the steady state wave height, diffraction influences considerably the total measured wave penetration inside the harbour. In the final SWASH model, the overall changes in the wave height are reproduced by SWASH. The agreement between the measured and the computed wave height is good at many output locations (diff.<10%). However, at some locations the accuracy is low (diff.>40%), owing to standing wave patterns which change fast within a short horizontal distance. Thus, the wave height can vary significantly at the area close to a specific wave gauge.  Finally, for relatively high waves and/or breaking waves, numerical instabilities are detected. Higher spatial resolution is required to capture such phenomena.

3. Conclusions

The study shows SWASH capability to reproduce qualitatively the most important reflection and diffraction trends. To a large extend, diffraction is the main process determining the wave height inside the harbour; reflection at the harbour end comes second. Outside the harbour, reflection off a quay wall is the dominant process, while reflection off a gravel slope is noteworthy. All in all, it is concluded that for non-breaking, relatively low waves, SWASH accuracy in modelling wave penetration is sufficient for engineering purposes. With further validation to guarantee the model stability, the implemented methodology can be a useful tool to understand the performance of SWASH in modeling wave penetration per wave process and in combination.

How to cite: Maroudi, K. A. and Reijmerink, S.: Advanced modelling of wave penetration in ports, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-11266,, 2020


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