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Research Proposal

Area of research
The research involves numerical modeling of fluid flows, and will be conducted in the School of
Chemistry, Physics, and Mechanical Engineering.

Statement of research topic

The proposed research project1 focuses on validation of advection-dispersion model parameters, and
development of flow field visualisation scheme for estuaries, using experimental drifter data.

Brief overview of previous relevant research

Estuarine management strategies rely on numerical modelling as much as they do on historical ob-
servations of tide and wind quantities, river and ocean conditions, and bathymetry [1]. Measurement
of water velocities, turbulence, dispersion-coefficient, temperature and salinity is traditionally done
by stationary instrumentation (Eulerian approach).

Project RT-FLOW2 , which the proposed research is a part of, develops novel drifter buoys for the
high frequency measurement of flow variables; the buoys are GPS/GNSS enabled and move along
with with the flow (Lagrangian approach). The project phases of drifter design, implementation and
data gathering have been completed [1, 2, 3]. With the crucial Lagrangian flow information now
available, advanced hydrodynamic models can be developed, calibrated and validated.

Objectives of the program of research and investigation

The study of Suara et al [2] at Currimundi Lake, using GPS enabled drifters to estimate the disper-
sion coefficients, will be a baseline validation case for numerical modelling. The project objectives

• Development of mathematical models considering the appropriate physical processes that affect
the flow-field, such as energy and momentum exchange at the air-water interface, gravity and
earth rotation [4].
• Development of numerical techniques to solve the resultant system of partial differential equa-
tions, and validation of the generated models with the experimental data.

– In shallow-water environment, the turbulence field can be complex due to interaction

between wind-driven top layer and bottom boundary layer. In such cases detailed LES
models may be deployed [4], instead of the simpler RANS approach.
• Development of visualisation schemes for the flow fields obtained from drifter measurements
and numerical simulation.

Research methods and plan including references to key literature sources

Numerous models have been developed to predict the scalar transport process in estuarine waters
[5, 6], although their extensive validations with accurate measurements are rare. The goal of the
proposed study is to bridge this literature gap. The proposed research methodology will be sub-
divided into three parts:
1 Title: Flow field visualisation and advective-dispersion model validation using drifter data.
2 Real-Time Flow Logging of Water (RT-FLOW)
• First, numerical models describing the transport of scalar by advection and dispersion will be
developed using the existing horizontal diffusivity values estimated in [2].
• Second, the flow fields generated from the drifter data and numerical results will be visualised
using line integral convolution [7], which depicts flow direction using textural variations.

• Finally, field observations of scalars will be used to validate the numerical model.
The models validated as a result of this work will result in efficient predictive tools for estuarine
management. This work is novel, challenging, and within the scope of a PhD project.

Proposed QUT Principal Supervisor/QUT Associate Supervisor(s)

Professors Richard Brown and Scott McCue will be the principal and associate supervisors, respec-
tively, for the proposed research project.

Coursework requirements
IFN001 - Advanced Information Research Skills (AIRS).

[1] K Suara, R Brown, C Wang, M Borgas, and Y Feng. Estimate of Lagrangian integral scales in
shallow tidal water using high resolution GPS-tracked drifters. In IAHR2015: 36th IAHR World
Congress: Deltas of the Future and What Happens Upstream, June 2015.
[2] K Suara, T Ketterer, H Fairweather, A McCallum, S Vanaki, C Allan, and R Brown. Cluster
dispersion of low Cost GPS-tracked drifters in a shallow water. (Unpublished, available online),
July 2016.

[3] K Suara, C Wang, Y Feng, R Brown, H Chanson, and M Borgas. High-Resolution GNSS-Tracked
Drifter for Studying Surface Dispersion in Shallow Water. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic
Technology, 32:579–590, 2015.
[4] V Armenio R Inghilesi F Roman, G Stipcich and S Corsini. Large eddy simulation of mixing in
coastal areas. International Journal of Heat and Fluid Flow, 31:327–341, 2010.
[5] B Lin and R Falconer. Modelling sediment fluxes in estuarine waters using a curvilinear coordi-
nate grid system. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 41:413–428, 1995.
[6] R Sutton, A Nicholas, and D Walling. Monitoring and modelling flow and suspended sediment
transport processes in alluvial cutoffs. IAHS Publication, 288:410–418, 2004.

[7] B Cabral and L Leedom. Imaging Vector Fields Using Line Integral Convolution. In Proceedings
of the 20th Annual Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, pages 263–270,
New York, NY, USA, 1993. ACM.