EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Understanding the impact of bathymetric changes in the German Bight on coastal dynamics: One step towards realistic morphodynamic modeling

Benjamin Jacob and Emil Stanev
Benjamin Jacob and Emil Stanev
  • Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Geesthacht, Germany (

The  hydrodynamic response to morphodynamic variability in the coastal German Bight was analyzed  via numerical experiments using time-referenced bathymetric data for the period 1982-2012. To this aim, time slice experiments were conducted for each year with the Semi-implicit Cross-scale Hydroscience Integrated System  model (SCHISM). This is an unstructured grid model, which allows to resolve small-scale bathymetric features in the coastal zone, which are also resolved in the time-referenced bathymetric data with their fine horizontal resolution of 50\,m. The analysis of bathymetric data reveals continuous evolution of small-scale bathymetric features and, e.g., the migration of tidal channels and rather complex change of the depths of tidal flats in different periods. The almost linear relationship between the cross-sectional inlet areas and the tidal prisms of the intertidal basins in the East Frisian Wadden Sea demonstrates that these bathymetric data describe a consistent morphodynamic evolutionary trend. The results of numerical experiments are streamlined to explain the changes of hydrodynamics from 1982 to 2012. Although these changes were located mostly in a relatively small part of the model area, they resulted in substantial changes (exceeding 5\,cm) in the amplitudes of M2 tides.  The  hydrodynamic response to bathymetric changes exceeded largely the response to sea-level change. The tidal asymmetry appeared very sensitive to bathymetric changes, particularly between the southern tip of Sylt island and the Eider Estuary along the eastern coast. The peak current asymmetry weakened from 1982 to 1995 and even reversed in some of the tidal basins to become flood-dominant. This would suggest that the flushing trend in the 1980s was reduced or inverted in the second half of the period of bathymetric observations. Salinity also appeared sensitive to bathymetric changes; the deviations in the individual years reached ~2 psu in the tidal channels and tidal flats. One practical conclusion from the present numerical simulations is that wherever possible, the numerical modeling of near-coastal zones must employ time-referenced bathymetry.

How to cite: Jacob, B. and Stanev, E.: Understanding the impact of bathymetric changes in the German Bight on coastal dynamics: One step towards realistic morphodynamic modeling, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15453,, 2021.

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