As ships become bigger and ship drafts deeper, the time slots over which tomorrow’s ships can
access the main Dutch harbors and their approach routes become shorter. The reducing
accessibility represents a challenge for maintaining the nautical safety and will reduce the
attractiveness of the Dutch harbors. Hence, the challenge is to optimize the use of the available
waterway capacity without compromising safety and at the same time avoiding prohibitively
expensive dredging campaigns. To face this challenge, a seamless forecasting system of total water depths
in the Dutch North Sea is needed that includes both the evolution of the seafloor topography and of
the water level. In this project, we focus on the
seamless forecasting of the water levels. In doing so, we will develop a hydrodynamic model that
resolves all relevant 3D physical processes and that is properly linked to a strong and extended
observational network. Three crucial advances to be made are covered by this project. First,
we will develop a new technique to transfer heights over large water bodies in order to be able to
realize a height system that covers the whole model domain and meets the required accuracy.
This realization serves as the unified height datum to which both observed and modeled water
levels will refer. Second, we will develop a model that resolves the fronts, freshwater lenses, and
baroclinic effects, that are characteristic features in the Dutch coastal waters, at high resolution.
To validate/ calibrate this model, we will use for the very first time multibeam echosounding
derived salinity/ temperature profiles. Finally, we will develop new and operational techniques to
i) assimilate full water levels (in particular those provided by satellite radar altimeters), and ii)
describe the accuracy of the model forecasts.