The Effects of a Severn Barrage on Wave Conditions in the Bristol Channel

Journal Article

Title: The Effects of a Severn Barrage on Wave Conditions in the Bristol Channel
Publication Date:
August 01, 2014
Journal: Renewable Energy
Volume: 68
Pages: 428-442
Publisher: Elsevier
Technology Type:

Document Access

Website: External Link


Fairley, I.; Ahmadian, R.; Falconer, R.; Willis, M.; Masters, I. (2014). The Effects of a Severn Barrage on Wave Conditions in the Bristol Channel. Renewable Energy, 68, 428-442.

The study investigates the impact that construction of a Severn Barrage in the Severn Estuary, on the west coast of the UK, might have on local wave conditions. Implementation of a barrage will impact on tidal currents and water elevations in the wider region. There is strong tidal modulation of wave conditions under the natural regime and therefore barrage-induced changes to tidal conditions could affect wave modulation in the region. This paper uses Swan, an open source 3rd generation spectral wave model, to investigate the possible impacts of construction of a barrage on tidal modulation of the wave conditions. It is found that current variations, rather than water level variations, are the dominant factor in tidal modulation of wave conditions. Barrage implementation does not substantially change the modulation of the wave period or direction. However, barrage implementation does affect the tidal modulation of wave heights in the area of interest. The tidal modulation of the wave heights is generally reduced compared to the natural case; the peaks in the wave heights on an incoming tide are slightly lowered and there is lesser attenuation in wave heights on the outgoing tide. This modulation leads to net changes in the wave heights over one tidal cycle. For all of the tested wave conditions, this net change is small for the majority of the tested domain, namely to within ±5% of the no barrage case. There are some areas of greater change, most notably larger net increases in the wave heights near the North Somerset coast where the post-construction net wave height increase over a tidal cycle approach 20% of the pre-construction conditions. These changes do not impact coastal flooding because the wave height increase is not co-incident with high tide. Importantly, the maximum wave height is not increased and thus the likelihood of extreme events is not increased. The area of greatest reduction is between Swansea and Porthcawl. Changes over a neap tidal cycle show similar patterns of net change, but the modulation over the tidal cycle is different; primarily the magnitude of modulation is half that for the spring tide case and the shape is altered in some locations.

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