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LABIMA Laboratorio di Ingegneria Marittima

Dario Pelli


International PhD Course: "Civil and Environmental Engineering" 
University of Florence and Technical University of Braunschweig




Development of an operational multi-physics model for simulation and prediction of wave processes, from deep to shallow water. 

Italian Tutor Prof. L. Cappietti, German Tutor Prof. H. Oumeraci   



Wind waves models on scales from the ocean to the coastline has been the point of interest for many years. Initial models considered representative wave heights and periods only. A significant innovation was carried with the development of spectral wave models, that describe the wave field with its energy. 
Spectral models mainly focus on large-scale wind-wave and wave-wave interactions, but for coastal dynamics wave characteristics in shallow water are crucial. In this case, several nearshore wave models are proposed, based on mild slope equation, parabolic-equation, nonlinear shallow water (NLSW) equations and Boussinesq-type equations.
The building of an operational multi-physics wave modelling system is motivated as support system for:

  • industries operating on the continental shelf and the coastal zone, such as fisheries, shipping and offshore industry;
  • coastal and ocean engineering companies, e.g. in the design and operation of offshore and coastal structures and the development of coastal management strategies;
  • offshore renewable energies farm operators;
    analysis of the wave energy potential in deep and shallow water, to project "Wave Energy Parks" (WEPs);
  • coastal recreation due to reliable knowledge of wave heights;
  • forecasting dangerous sea states that can increase the risk of coastal flooding due to storm surge.



 The objective of the project is to develop an operational multi-physics modelling system, in order to hindcast and forecast wind waves on scales from the open sea to the shoreline. The geographical domain of interest is the north-west Mediterranean Sea and the coastal area of the Tuscany region is considered as the shallow water test case.



The methodology of the research can be summarized in the following list of steps:

  • definition of the different scales of the problem to highlight the related physics that have to be numerically simulated;
  • definition of technical and non technical factors that have to be taken into consideration for the selection of numerical models to be used;
  • choice of the optimal numerical model for each geographical domain, in order to properly simulate the related time-space resolution and the inherent physic;
  • choice of the optimal settings for every model, including the computational meshes and the parameterization of the source terms;
  • coupling of the diverse models and nesting of the different computational grids, building an operational model chain;
  • to calibration and validation of the final operational modelling system to maximize its reliability.



The expected result is to develop an operational modelling system to forecast the sea state in the North-western Mediterranean Sea, with diverse high resolution grids focused along the Tuscany coastline.


ultimo aggiornamento: 19-Ott-2018
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