WAMSI dredging science node: Plume modelling uncertainty-hydrodynamics

P.M. Branson, C. Sun

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paperpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The WAMSI Dredging Science Node is a strategic research initiative that evolved in response to uncertainties in the environmental impact assessment and management of large-scale dredging operations and coastal infrastructure developments. Its goal is to enhance capacity within government and the private sector to predict and manage the environmental impacts of dredging in Western Australia, delivered through a combination of reviews, field studies, laboratory experimentation, relationship testing and development of standardised protocols and guidance for impact prediction, monitoring and management.

Numerical modelling of the dispersion of plumes generated by dredging activities is central to environmental impact assessment (EIA) and is a complex process that integrates the physical processes of generation, advection, dispersion, settling and resuspension of fine sediment. Impact assessment requires the prediction of frequency, duration and intensity of environmental disturbance due to dredging activity, which requires the translation of changes to the physical environment (sedimentation and light) into biologically relevant indicators of potential environmental stress.

Recent reviews of EIA submissions on the process of generation and release of sediments by dredging and the specification of source terms used in far field modelling have highlighted the significant uncertainty and variability present in the modelling process. This is in addition to the process uncertainty (2D/3D, shear stress, advection and mixing etc.) and forcing uncertainty (spatial and temporal resolution, climatology etc.) which is typically present in the nearshore hydrodynamic modelling process.

This paper provides an outline of the hydrodynamic model that underpins an extensive numerical modelling study with the goal of quantifying the various sources of dredge plume modelling uncertainty, supported by the use of extensive field data, detailed dredge log information, satellite derived total suspended solids and supercomputing resources. Further detailed results of the plume uncertainty characterisation will be contained in the oral presentation and final study reports.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAustralasian Coasts & Ports 2017: Working with Nature
PublisherEngineers Australia
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9781922107916
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventCoasts & Ports 2017 Conference - Cairns, Australia
Duration: 21 Jun 201723 Jun 2017

Publication series

NameAustralasian Coasts and Ports 2017 Conference


ConferenceCoasts & Ports 2017 Conference
Internet address


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