Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Stabilizing a Dynamic Unsteady HEC-RAS Model

Written by Chris Goodell | WEST Consultants
Copyright © RASModel.com. 2013.  All rights reserved.

One of the most frustrating aspects of unsteady HEC-RAS modeling can be the model stabilization process. You know, you’ve gone to great lengths collecting the best survey/topo data and solid hydrology. Then you’ve painstakingly spent hours…possibly days entered all of that data only to find that once you press the “Compute” button, the model crashes. The dreaded “Red Bar”! clip_image002 Sometimes you can get your simulation to complete without crashing, but the listed numerical errors are so high that you can’t with good conscience submit that as your final simulation. Either way, approaching an unsteady HEC-RAS model (especially a dynamic one) as a beginner with little experience and understanding of how to stabilize it can cause significant delays in your project and worse, completely blow up your budget. I’ve uploaded two HEC-RAS projects to the following Google Drive Site: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B_s8OLJOgOi0YU92SGZQZm9raWM&usp=sharing



RawleyResUnstable.prj is an unsteady flow dam breach HEC-RAS project recently sent to me for help. Although the model ran to completion without crashing, it had unacceptably high errors.
RawleyResStable.prj is the fully stabilized version of the model with no numerical errors.

The following lists out the courses of action taken to stabilize the model. Feel free to download the “Unstable” and “Stable” models and try these techniques on your own. The links following some of these items will take you to more information about that particular technique.
1. Cross Section Spacing. The initial spacing was way too coarse. A visual check alone of the geometry schematic and profile plot should encourage you to investigate a finer cross section spacing.
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Geometry Schematic
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Profile Plot Samuels equation suggests anywhere from 15 ft to 50 ft spacing (depending on what bed slope you use). I interpolated to 50 ft for the entire reach. http://hecrasmodel.blogspot.com/2008/12/samuels-equation-for-cross-section.html


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  1. Dam Breach models typically have time steps on the order of a minute or less. This model was initially set with a computation interval of 10 minutes which is high even for the largest and “slowest” of dam breach models. I changed the time step to 10 seconds. The selection of 10 seconds was based on “gut” feel and lots of experience doing dam breach models. There are some methods for approximating good timesteps, notably the Courant Condition and Fread’s equation. Also, setting the cross section spacing/timestep ratio equal to a representative stream velocity will get you close. In this case, the cross section spacing is 50 ft, and I was able to pull some velocities (prior to the model crashing) at about 6 ft/s. That suggests a time step of 8.3 seconds. Close enough to 10 seconds, so we’ll stick with that.
  1. I changed the downstream boundary normal depth slope from 0.01 to 0.001. Not sure what is downstream of the first cross section, but 0.01 is awfully steep and was setting up a very low depth at the downstream boundary (which was causing instabilities). http://hecrasmodel.blogspot.com/2010/01/downstream-boundary-normal-depth.html
Notice in the following profile plot of the downstream end of the reach how the water surface at the boundary cross section is below critical depth (the red dot). This creates an overestimation of the water depth at the next upstream cross section, which in turns creates some instability over the next several timesteps.
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The proper way to handle this would be to find out what is downstream of your model and select a boundary condition that best represents those conditions. In absence of downstream conditions, the 0.001 slope for normal depth provides a reasonable solution.  Either way, this underscores the importance of moving your downstream boundary far away from your area of interest in your study reach.  That way the errors that do originate from your downstream boundary assumption will have diminished to negligible levels before impacting your area of interest. 
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  1. In the unsteady flow editor, the initial flow and the first time step flow should always be equal. In the original model, the initial flow is left blank (which is actually okay because RAS will use the first timestep flow if left blank). However, the first time step flow is very low at 0.14 cfs. Peak discharge of your inflow hydrograph is around 600 cfs. I put in a baseflow (minimum flow) of 5% of this, which is 30 cfs. Just to be safe, I put 30 cfs in the initial flow input box as well. It’s important to make sure that the 30 cfs baseflow does not have an impact on the peak of the breach outflow hydrograph. http://hecrasmodel.blogspot.com/2009/02/minimum-flow-requirements.html
  1. The upstream end of your reservoir is very steep (14%). This one was easy to spot in the profile plot because of the very nice smooth profile plot followed by a sudden spike in the energy level (green dashed line) at the upstream end. Notice to that there is a corresponding supercritical solution at the upstream most cross section. These are both indications that more cross sections are needed here. http://hecrasmodel.blogspot.com/2010/01/another-reason-for-interpolated-cross.html
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I added more cross sections by interpolating the steep slope at the upstream end of the reservoir (10 ft spacing).
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Notice the energy spike is not completely gone, but it is much better. Refining the HTAB parameters (http://hecrasmodel.blogspot.com/2009/02/crazy-energy-grade-line.html), turning on mixed flow and bumping up n values will collectively take care of the rest of this (see numbers 8, 9, and 10 below).
  1. From RS 4577 to 3791 you have your main channel defined in a small elevated side channel. The right overbank is lower in elevation than the channel.
clip_image020 This is problematic in RAS. Using the graphical cross section editor, I redefined the bank stations to get rid of this problem.

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  1. Notice now in the HTAB parameters property table, the HTAB definition begins at the elevation of the invert of the side channel that was previously defined as the main channel. There is a big gap in the computation points in the newly defined main channel. This poses problems with HEC-RAS, particularly at low discharges/stages, since RAS will have to extrapolate to obtain a solution over that range.
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I readjusted the cross section HTAB parameters to reflect the new bank station definitions (I used the “Copy Invert” button for all cross sections). While in there, I maximized the resolution of the HTAB parameters by changing number of points to 100 and minimizing the increment as much as possible while still having full coverage of each cross section. http://hecrasmodel.blogspot.com/2009/02/crazy-energy-grade-line.html http://hecrasmodel.blogspot.com/2011/03/more-on-htab-parameters.html
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  1. In the figure below, notice all of the “red” areas in this zoomed in section of the  upstream end of the reach.
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These are areas that are near critical depth. I turned on the “Mixed Flow” option in the Unsteady Flow Analysis window, which helps stabilize the near critical depths at the upstream end of the reservoir. http://hecrasmodel.blogspot.com/2011/04/mixed-flow-regime-options-lpi-method.html If you’ve been following along correcting your own copy of the model, you’ll notice that the model now finally runs to completion without crashing. There are still a few minor errors as shown in the Computation Messages.

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It’s debatable whether you need to take care of these relatively small errors. Particularly for a dam breach model, where the presumed errors of the input data probably far outweigh these small numerical errors. Nevertheless, there’s a sense of pride in putting out a very robust model, completely free of numerical errors. So…let’s continue.
  1. The errors in the computation window above suggest a problem around river station 6200. That happens to be the upstream end of the reservoir and the source of the error can clearly be seen with the energy grade line and critical depth turned on.
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The section at the upstream end of the reservoir is very steep at about 13.5%. In fact, that’s greater than the suggested maximum slope of 10%, as stated in the HEC-RAS manuals. You can see as the pool starts to lower, the steep reach is exposed and because of the low n values, the water surface is calculated to be supercritical. Let’s assume that the geometry is correct, and the upstream end of the reservoir really is that steep. Jarrett’s Equation suggests very high n values should be used here (~0.2), based on the bed slope and hydraulic radius (after the breach when the reservoir has drained). The original model had 0.07 and 0.035 for the overbanks and main channel, respectively. I changed all the n values in this steep reach to 0.15, because I think 0.2 might be a little overkill. http://hecrasmodel.blogspot.com/2009/12/n-values-in-steep-streams.html
There…no errors! However, there is still a Warning about extrapolating above/beyond the rating curve at a bridge (R.S. 277).
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  1. To get rid of that warning, I increased the HTAB headwater maximum elevation at River Station 277 (the bridge) from 278 ft to 280 ft so that RAS doesn’t have to extrapolate.
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There we have it. A clean solution. No errors, no warnings.
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video





24 comments:

  1. Perfect..
    I didn't download the files, but in the pictures it seems that after the inline structure and/or brigdes there is larger spacement between the sections, that is fine in your opnion?

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    Replies
    1. Yes. That is okay. RAS will use the empirical structure equations (inline structure, bridge, culvert, etc) to compute from downstream to upstream. RAS will not interpolate over bridges and inline structures.

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  2. Another suggestion for the most upstream issues (last one you discussed) would be just to delete the last "real" XS and the two last interpolated XS, as the amount of storage in those sections is negligible.

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  3. The drop box you have provided is empty. is there any chance to get these file?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AR V, sorry about that. The RAS files are located on my Google Drive Site at https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B_s8OLJOgOi0YU92SGZQZm9raWM&usp=sharing

      Delete
  4. Chris,
    I have a model I am currently working on that runs with minimal errors (2 errors) and am encountering the same error as the last listed within the above example, extrapolating above/beyond rating curve at bridge/culvert. I tried increasing my HTab Headwater Max Elevation firstly to 0.5m above what it initially was to no avail. I then tried several other steps above this even using an unrealistic value double that of what was initially used with the error extrapolating above rating curve at bridge/culvert still occuring? Do you have any suggestion of what may be happening here and how I may go about amending this problem?

    Kind Regards Sam

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    Replies
    1. Hey Sam- If our model is stable, go to the water surface profile plot and check the max ws profile and see what was actually computed for the headwater elevation of that bridge. If you pick an elevation just above that for your Max Headwater, the error message should go away. Is it possible that you are getting errors with your computed water surface that aren't showing up in the computation window? The water surface profile plot should reveal this. Hope this helps.

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    2. I have been able to clear the error. Thanks for the timely response Chris.

      Another question I had was is there any way to create a junction between two reaches along the same channel that are not currently connected by a junction?

      Kind Regards

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    3. Yes, you can create a "dummy" tributary and connect it to the existing reach. RAS will then create a junction there. You can then delete the "dummy" tributary and choose to maintain the junction. But...why would you want to do this?

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  5. Dear Chris,

    Apologies for the delayed response! I was attempting to create a junction to join a section of reach (downstream of my main channel) that was to be added below the most DS XS of the main channel (an afterthought for a railway crossing that was not included in the model to begin with). I have managed to work my way around the problem by using -ve chainages for the new DS XS's and renaming the new reach names to match the existing. Thanks for the advice on creating a dummy tributary though, it might come in handy one day :)

    Kind regards

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  6. Dear Chris, Is it possible through HECRASCrontroller to "update" cross sections at specified times, for a new ones? Think about modelling a Dam construction process. Any tips?
    Thank you

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely! If you can think it up, it can be done. You will need to start and stop HEC-RAS with predefined date/times for when you want to make changes to the cross sections. While the simulation is stopped, you can re-write the geometry text file with new cross section(s). Then define the next time window by writing a new plan text file. Then call the Compute_CurrentPlan procedure. It can definitely be done. "Breaking the HEC-RAS Code" has valuable information that will help you do this. Good luck!

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  7. Great post!
    as right know i'm "struggling" with some model which very unstable.
    i read in depthly one by one of your point, then realize, where is number 6?

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    Replies
    1. There is no number 6. The numbering got off for some reason.

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  8. Hi Chris. I've been getting this error for months now off and on. (I often give up on unsteady and revert back to steady flow) I've had a few emails back and forth with the HEC but not any solutions to date. What I am curious is if this is an error associated with a mem stack problem. I've been on most of the blogs and nothing has helped, even the fortran blogs. I'm running Win 7, 16GB RAM, and a Tbyte of hard drive.

    Geometric Preprocessor HEC-RAS 5.0.3 September 2016

    Finished Processing Geometry

    Writing Event Conditions
    Event Conditions Complete

    Performing Unsteady Flow Simulation HEC-RAS 5.0.3 September 2016

    forrtl: severe (157): Program Exception - access violation
    Image PC Routine Line Source
    RasUnsteady64.exe 000000013FC99D8E Unknown Unknown Unknown
    RasUnsteady64.exe 000000013F7BF84B Unknown Unknown Unknown
    RasUnsteady64.exe 000000013F889607 Unknown Unknown Unknown
    RasUnsteady64.exe 000000013F88C968 Unknown Unknown Unknown
    RasUnsteady64.exe 000000013F8717F4 Unknown Unknown Unknown
    RasUnsteady64.exe 000000013F8C6345 Unknown Unknown Unknown
    RasUnsteady64.exe 000000013F7A3988 Unknown Unknown Unknown
    RasUnsteady64.exe 000000013F91268F Unknown Unknown Unknown
    RasUnsteady64.exe 000000013F96F257 Unknown Unknown Unknown
    RasUnsteady64.exe 000000013F9B8896 Unknown Unknown Unknown
    RasUnsteady64.exe 000000013F75F55B Unknown Unknown Unknown
    RasUnsteady64.exe 000000013F77F98E Unknown Unknown Unknown
    RasUnsteady64.exe 00000001400EF8C6 Unknown Unknown Unknown
    RasUnsteady64.exe 000000013FC9FC22 Unknown Unknown Unknown
    kernel32.dll 00000000779359CD Unknown Unknown Unknown
    ntdll.dll 0000000077B6A561 Unknown Unknown Unknown

    Error with program: RasUnsteady64.exe Exit Code = 157


    Computations Summary

    Computation Task Time(hh:mm:ss)
    Completing Geometry <1
    Preprocessing Geometry(64) <1
    Unsteady Flow Computations(64) 1
    Complete Process 3

    Thanks for any advice.. TK

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tony, prior to 5.0.3, those errors were typically related to cell violations in a 2D area. In my experience, HEC did a good job cleaning all of those up for version 5.0.3 and only on rare occasions do I see the stack of RASUnsteady64.exe Unknown errors. When I do, it's almost always fixed by saving RAS, shutting it down, and reopening it. You might also try a computer reboot too, if the first suggestion doesn't work. If that's not it, I'm afraid I won't be of much help. Just check all of your input. You can always strip down your project until it runs okay, then add stuff back one at a time. That's what I do when I'm all out of ideas for the cause of an error like this. Good luck-
      Chris

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  9. Good Day.

    During unsteady flow computation in HECRAS 5.0.1, the simulation stopped at the WRITE GEOMETRY INFORMATION part. Can anyone tell me what's the problem?

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  10. I love you, i manage to make my model stable, lots of hugs for you

    ReplyDelete
  11. Plan: 'Plan_1988' (Projet_Cavally_SMI_.p05)
    Simulation started at: 08Feb2017 04:51:47 PM

    Writing Geometry
    Cavally2D: Mesh property tables are current.
    Completed Writing Geometry

    Geometric Preprocessor HEC-RAS 5.0.3 September 2016

    Finished Processing Geometry

    Writing Event Conditions
    Event Conditions Complete

    Performing Unsteady Flow Simulation HEC-RAS 5.0.3 September 2016

    **** ERROR: Solution Solver Failed ****

    Unstable for Initial Iteration at 31DEC1987 2400



    **** The Model Has One Or More Error(s) ****

    Unsteady Flow Simulation Terminated

    Writing Results to DSS

    No output to write to DSS

    Reading Data for Post Process
    Simulation went unstable at: 01Jan1988 00:10:00

    Running Post Processor HEC-RAS 5.0.3 September 2016

    Finished Post Processing


    Computations Summary

    Computation Task Time(hh:mm:ss)
    Completing Geometry 8
    Preprocessing Geometry 7
    Unsteady Flow Computations 4:12
    Writing to DSS 1
    Post-Processing 2
    Complete Process 4:33

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your model is unstable for initial conditions. Check your input data, especially your initial conditions.

      Delete
  12. Plan: 'Simulation1' (MODELE_1D_2D.p01)
    Simulation started at: 16Feb2017 04:41:50 PM
    Using 64 Bit Computation Engines

    Writing Geometry
    Surface: Mesh property tables are current.
    Completed Writing Geometry

    Geometric Preprocessor HEC-RAS 5.0.3 September 2016

    Finished Processing Geometry

    Writing Event Conditions
    Event Conditions Complete

    Performing Unsteady Flow Simulation HEC-RAS 5.0.3 September 2016

    **** ERROR: Solution Solver Failed ****

    Unstable for Initial Iteration at 31DEC1987 2400



    **** The Model Has One Or More Error(s) ****

    Unsteady Flow Simulation Terminated

    Writing Results to DSS
    Finished Writing Results to DSS

    Reading Data for Post Process
    Simulation went unstable at: 01Jan1988 00:01:00

    Running Post Processor HEC-RAS 5.0.3 September 2016

    Finished Post Processing


    Stored maps were not written because the simulation did not complete.


    Computations Summary

    Computation Task Time(hh:mm:ss)
    Completing Geometry 4
    Preprocessing Geometry(64) 2
    Unsteady Flow Computations(64) 1:42
    Writing to DSS(64) <1
    Post-Processing(64) 1
    Complete Process 1:53

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Chris. have been running a model under the unsteady flow and it consistently gives me the same error, even tho I have already tried all possible solutions given in this forum. The latest error given was:

    Maximum iterations of 40 at: RS WSEL ERROR
    Solution solver went unstable, iteration 40 at 20JAN2014 12:59:00
    Gave_Oloron Gave_Oloron 57846 145.74 16.950

    **** Solution Solver Failed ****

    Minimum error exceeds allowable tolerance at 20JAN2014 1259

    Gave_Oloron Gave_Oloron 62222
    WARNING!

    ***** Extrapolated above Cross Section Table at: *****

    Gave_Oloron Gave_Oloron R.S. 68562
    Gave_Oloron Gave_Oloron from R.S. 68033.* to 67764
    Gave_Oloron Gave_Oloron R.S. 59529
    Gave_Oloron Gave_Oloron R.S. 59219.*
    Gave_Oloron Gave_Oloron from R.S. 57821 to 54909

    After this, the red bar starts running so I am kinda blocked on how to proceed to correct these errors. I have already increased the number of stations and limited the spacing to 300 m, I have changed the increment to 0.25 and the number of points to 100 - even tho it still extrapolates. Any help or suggestions on how I can fix it? I have tried (almost) everything! I have taken different time steps and it still crashes. I have readjusted the cross sections also (based on the warnings given in the outputs), but it doesnt really solve anything. I used the initial conditions as the first point of the hydrograph (even tried changing the ranges) and it still gave me the errors. No mater what I do, the simulation crashed!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hey!
    I have been running a model under the unsteady flow and it consistently gives me the same error, even tho I have already tried all possible solutions given in this forum. The latest error given was:
    Maximum iterations of 40 at: RS WSEL ERROR
    Solution solver went unstable, iteration 40 at 20JAN2014 12:59:00
    Gave_Oloron Gave_Oloron 57846 145.74 16.950

    **** Solution Solver Failed ****

    Minimum error exceeds allowable tolerance at 20JAN2014 1259

    Gave_Oloron Gave_Oloron 62222
    WARNING!

    ***** Extrapolated above Cross Section Table at: *****

    Gave_Oloron Gave_Oloron R.S. 68562
    Gave_Oloron Gave_Oloron from R.S. 68033.* to 67764
    Gave_Oloron Gave_Oloron R.S. 59529
    Gave_Oloron Gave_Oloron R.S. 59219.*
    Gave_Oloron Gave_Oloron from R.S. 57821 to 54909

    After this, the red bar starts running so I am kinda blocked on how to proceed to correct these errors. I have already increased the number of stations and limited the spacing to 300 m, I have changed the increment to 0.25 and the number of points to 100 - even tho it still extrapolates. Any help or suggestions on how I can fix it? I have tried (almost) everything! I have taken different time steps and it still crashes. I have readjusted the cross sections also (based on the warnings given in the outputs), but it doesnt really solve anything. I used the initial conditions as the first point of the hydrograph (even tried changing the ranges) and it still gave me the errors. No mater what I do, the simulation crashed!
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete