A Synthetic Spring-Neap Tidal Cycle for Long-Term Morphodynamic Models

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Existing tidal input reduction approaches applied in accelerated morphodynamic simulations aim to capture the dominant tidal forces in a single or double representative tidal cycle, often referred to as a “morphological tide.” These strongly simplified tidal signals fail to represent the tidal extremes and hence poorly allow to represent hydrodynamics in the intertidal areas. Here, a generic method is developed to construct a synthetic spring-neap tidal cycle that (a) represents the original signal; (b) is exactly periodic; and (c) is derived directly from tidal time series or harmonic constituents. The starting point is a fortnightly modulation of the semidiurnal tide to represent spring-neap variations, while conserving periodicity. Diurnal tides and higher harmonics of the semidiurnal tide are included to represent the asymmetry of the tide. The amplitudes and phases of the synthetic signal are then fitted to histograms of water levels and water level gradients derived from the original sea surface elevation time series. A depth-averaged model of the Ems estuary (The Netherlands) demonstrates the effects of alternative tidal input reduction techniques. Adopting the new approach, the along-estuary variation in tidal wave shape is well-represented, leading to an improved representation of extreme tidal conditions. Especially the more realistic representation of intertidal dynamics improves the overall hydrodynamics and residual sand transport patterns, approaching nonschematized tidal dynamics.