Wednesday, March 4, 2015

2D Mesh “Leaking”

Written by Christopher Goodell, P.E., D.WRE  |  WEST Consultants
Copyright © The RAS Solution 2015.  All rights reserved.

To follow up my post on fragmented inundation, I want to highlight another 2D mesh issue we should all be aware of.  Unlike fragmented inundation, which is an artifact of how HEC-RAS discretizes the 2D domain and the way it maps the results, Leaking is a result of terrain features not aligning with cell faces and/or cells that are too large, and can produce very wrong results. 
Take the following example of leaking.


Here we see a high ground feature that is straddled by rather large cell.  HEC-RAS will preserve the underlying terrain on the cell faces, but the cell itself is resolved to a volume-elevation curve.  Since the high ground feature runs diagonally through the cell, it is not picked up by the cell faces.  As a result, HEC-RAS does not know that there is a barrier that should keep water on one side of the high ground feature before it is overtopped.  The consequence is that water leaks through the high ground and is available to move further down the channel even before the high ground is overtopped.  This is incorrect.  To better capture the high ground feature, cell faces in this vicinity should be aligned to the high ground feature so that the terrain is picked up on the cell faces, which will prevent leakage.  The following figure shows the resulting flood map at the same time in the simulation as the figure above. 


Here we see the entire mesh has been overall refined to a smaller cell center spacing, but in addition, much more resolution was added by manually straddling cell centers around the high ground feature.  Notice around the crest of the high ground feature, the cell centers were placed to align the cell faces with the contours.  This ensures that the high ground is picked up by the cell faces.  The result is a higher resolution flood map, but also, and more importantly prevents leakage through the high ground before it is overtopped.  Also important is to provide much smaller cells on the downstream slope of the high ground feature, to prevent fragmented inundation.  In hindsight, I probably went a little overkill on adding cell centers, but it didn’t really add any noticeable time to the simulation, so I’m good with it. 
Manually adding cell centers is not particularly precise, and can take a bit of time.  Fortunately HEC will be including a new feature in the full release of 5.0 that allows the user to define a breakline along high ground terrain features like this.  The mesh is then generated, automatically aligning the cell faces to that breakline. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Status on HEC-RAS 5.0

Written by Christopher Goodell, P.E., D.WRE  |  WEST Consultants
Copyright © The RAS Solution 2015.  All rights reserved.

Many of us were hoping to see the official release of HEC-RAS version 5.0 around now (end of Feb, early March, 2015), but unfortunately there have been some delays due to a large amount of bug fixes and HEC won't be releasing it as planned.  I haven't been provided with a new date, and I don't want to guess, but I don't think it will be too much longer.  Keep checking back here at The RAS Solution, or at HEC's website for the latest information on the official release.

The good news is this delay will give HEC some more time to include some more really cool and useful features.  Potential new features are shown below.

I don't have all the details on these features yet, but the 2D Area Breaklines tool looks to be a quick and convenient way to align cell faces in your 2D mesh around terrain features-this will save a LOT of time setting up and editing your mesh.  The 2D Area Mann n Region will allow you to draw polygons directly in the HEC-RAS Geometry editor for region-specific n-value factors.  It won't initially replace the need for a land-use shapefile, but will allow you to more easily run calibration on your n values.

In the meantime, the October Beta version of HEC-RAS 5.0 is still available and works very well. You can get the install file here or on the side bar of The RAS Solution.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Sediment Transport Features in HEC-RAS 5.0

Written by Stanford Gibson, Ph.D. |  Hydrologic Engineering Center
Copyright © Stanford Gibson 2015.  All rights reserved.

The new 2D features and mapping tools are the most anticipated new features in HEC-RAS 5.0. However, HEC also added a couple major new sediment features, as well as many minor features and a few substantial bug fixes (e.g. SI Units). The two major features are the ARS-USDA Bank Stability and Toe Erosion Model (BSTEM) and Unsteady Sediment transport.

USDA-ARS Bank Stability and Toe Erosion Model (BSTEM)
HEC collaborated with Andrew Simon (Cardno) and Eddy Langendoen (USDA-ARS) to couple the HEC-RAS mobile bed model with the USDA-ARS Bank Stability and Toe Erosion model (BSTEM).  This model coupling adds BSTEM’s lateral processes (geotechnical bank failure, groundwater lag and toe scour) to HEC-RAS’ vertical, deposition and erosion processes.  This tool has a separate User/Technical Reference manual available from HEC.

Goodwin Creek, MS, repeated right bank surveys compared with computed HEC-RAS/BSTEM cross section migration from Gibson et al. (2015).
Unsteady Sediment Transport:
Previous versions of sediment transport in HEC-RAS used the quasi-unsteady hydraulic model exclusively, simulating hydrodynamics with a series of steady flows. HEC-RAS 5.0 couples the sediment computations with unsteady flow. Hydrologic mass conservation is the biggest advantage of unsteady sediment transport, making reservoir models and even multi-reservoir cascade models much more practical in HEC-RAS. However, coupling sediment transport to the unsteady flow capabilities also brings several powerful features, native to the unsteady hydraulic analysis environment, into sediment transport analyses including: lateral structures, flow networks, mixed flow (figure), and especially operational rules (Gibson and Boyd, 2014). Version 5.0 even includes sediment based operational parameters, operating structures based on bed change and concentration (e.g. TMDL).

Initial and bed profile and water surface elevation for a mixed flow sediment transport simulation with equilibrium sediment load and hard bottom. Sediment deposited in the sub-critical reach.
Other Features:
HEC-RAS 5.0 also includes a range of other new sediment features including:
· HDF5 Sediment Output and a New Sediment Output Viewer
· Copeland (1993) Sorting and Armoring Method (Exner 7 in HEC 6T)
· Gradational Hotstart
· Sediment Flow Splits
· New Dredging Tools
· Bed Roughness Predictors
· New User Manual
· DSS Sediment Time Series Boundary Condition
· Specific Gage Capabilities


HEC-RAS 5.0 will be released shortly. To test a final beta version contact Stanford Gibson at HEC.

Copeland, R (1993) Numerical Modeling of Hydraulic Sorting and Armoring in Alluvial Rivers, PhD Thesis, The University of Iowa, 284 p.

Gibson, S. and Boyd, P. (2014) “Modeling Long Term Alternatives for Sustainable Sediment Management Using Operational Sediment Transport Rules,” Reservoir Sedimentation –Scheiss et al. (eds), 229-236.

Gibson, S., Simon, A., Langendoen, E., Bankhead, N., Shelley, J. (2015) A Physically-Based Channel-Modeling Framework Integrating HEC-RAS Sediment Transport Capabilities and the USDA-ARS Bank-Stability and Toe-Erosion Model (BSTEM), SEDHYD Interagency Sediment Conference, April 2015, In Press.