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Validation of a numerical storm surge model using the Nortek Acoustic Wave and Current Profiler
at Golovin, Alaska
Jacquelyn R. Smith
University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Engineering and Mines, Geological Engineering
Storm surge derived flooding and erosion has been identified as an imminent threat to the coastal
communities of northwest Alaska. Golovin is particularly vulnerable to extreme flooding and subsequent
erosion to low lying areas during the fall storm season. Golovin has a population of 171 people and
resides in a closed bay on the northeast corner of Norton Sound, which is fed by the Bering Sea to the
west. Fall storms originate in the Bering Sea and are translated to the shallow topography of Norton
Sound, which amplifies the effects of atmospheric pressure differentials and wind induced waves on
nearshore set-up. These storms affect the Golovin sand spit which hosts the largest portion of the
community’s infrastructure including the school, post office, communication facilities, health clinic, fuel
storage, barge landing, commercial dock, and residential homes.
A Nortek acoustic wave and current profiler will be used to capture three months of surface wave
and water column velocity data during the fall storm season. This data will be used to calibrate and
validate a numerical storm surge model developed in Delft3D FLOW and WAVE. Statistically
equiprobable storm events will be generated based on storm direction, intensity and extreme water levels.
These events will then be used in the storm surge model to estimate vulnerability to dune overtopping and
erosion along the Golovin coast.