CFD Modeling of Arctic Coastal Erosion due to Breaking Waves

Ahmad, Nadeem (Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)) | Bihs, Hans (Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)) | Chella, Mayilvahanan Alagan (Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)) | Kamath, Arun (Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)) | Arntsen, Øivind A. (Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU))


Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling of breaking waves over a slope and the resulting erosion in the case of an Arctic coastline is presented in this study. The study is performed with the open-source numerical model REEF3D. First, the numerical model is validated for the simulation of incident waves, wave breaking on a slope, and the sediment transport process. The numerical results show good agreement with wave theory and experimental data. The validated numerical model for the hydrodynamics and the sediment transport process is then used to simulate the coastal erosion process under the breaking wave impact on a vertical bluff. An Arctic coastline at Bjørndalen region at Isfjorden, Svalbard, is chosen, where a significant coastal erosion was observed during a storm event in September 2015.


Most of the Arctic coastline is susceptible to climate change. Because of global warming and the transfer of additional heat fluxes, the frozen period of the upper active layers in the Arctic coastline is reduced. Consequently, coastline stability decreases during the extended warmer period. The average thickness of the active sediment layer in Svalbard, Norway, varies between 1.0 and 10.0 m and consists of coarse-grained sandy soil (Fromreide, 2014). Climate change can affect this Arctic coastline in two ways. First, the extended warmer period results in the formation of deeper and weaker active sediment layers (IPCC, 2007). Second, the melting of the Arctic ice sheets increases the sea level, resulting in higher tides. In combination, the higher tides approach the Arctic coastline (Thompson et al., 2016) and erode the weaker active sediment layer. A recent example of this change has been experienced in the Bjørndalen region in Isfjorden, Svalbard, where significant coastal erosion occurred during a storm event in September 2015. The waves reached the cabins built near Isfjorden and resulted in an almost 1.0-m-deep scour hole (Barstein, 2015). Therefore, in order to better understand the coastal erosion phenomenon in the Arctic regions, the processes of wave breaking and the resulting sediment transport have to be investigated in detail. The study is also important for the design of new coastal structures and suitable mitigation measures at the Arctic coastline.