National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2015

Waves and currents in Hawaiian waters induced by the dispersive 2011 Tohoku tsunami

Zhou, H., Y. Wei, L. Wright, and V. Titov

Pure Appl. Geophys., 171(12), 3365–3384, doi: 10.1007/s00024-014-0781-3 (2014)

This study focuses on the effects of frequency dispersion on tsunami-induced coastal water waves and currents, exemplified by the 2011 Tohoku tsunami event. The investigation relies on numerical simulations. We start from a tsunami source constrained through the inversion algorithm of NOAA’s tsunami inundation forecast system. The trans-Pacific propagation and the hydrodynamic processes in the Hawaiian Islands region are simulated with a weakly dispersive Boussinesq model and a shallow-water model that neglects dispersion effects. From these modeling results, boundary conditions are derived to force the high-resolution simulations in the coastal waters in the Hawaiian Islands region through MOST, a tsunami simulating code based on the shallow-water theory. We note that the dispersion effects generally lower the amplitudes of leading waves. Trailing waves of short wavelengths and high amplitudes can develop in coastal waters. A model neglecting dispersion effects could under-predict the wave heights and current speeds at the trailing waves.

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