Section: Research Program
Modelling and analysis
Hazardous flows are complex physical phenomena that can hardly be represented by shallow water type systems of partial differential equations (PDEs). In this domain, the research program is devoted to the derivation and analysis of reduced complexity models compared to the Navier-Stokes equations, but relaxing the shallow water assumptions. The main purpose is then to obtain models well-adapted to the physical phenomena at stake.
Even if the resulting models do not strictly belong to the family of hyperbolic systems, they exhibit hyperbolic features: the analysis and discretisation techniques we intend to develop have connections with those used for hyperbolic conservation laws. It is worth noticing that the need for robust and efficient numerical procedures is reinforced by the smallness of dissipative effects in geophysical models which therefore generate singular solutions and instabilities.
On the one hand, the derivation of the Saint-Venant system from the Navier-Stokes equations is based on two approximations (the so-called shallow water assumptions), namely
As a consequence the objective is to get rid of these two assumptions, one after the other, in order to obtain models accurately approximating the incompressible Euler or Navier-Stokes equations.
On the other hand, many applications require the coupling with non-hydrodynamic equations, as in the case of micro-algae production or erosion processes. These new equations comprise non-hyperbolic features and a special analysis is needed.
As for the first shallow water assumption, multi-layer systems were proposed to describe the flow as a superposition of Saint-Venant type systems , , . Even if this approach has provided interesting results, layers are considered separate and non-miscible fluids, which implies strong limitations. That is why we proposed a slightly different approach ,  based on a Galerkin type decomposition along the vertical axis of all variables and leading, both for the model and its discretisation, to more accurate results.
A kinetic representation of our multilayer model allows to derive robust numerical schemes endowed with crucial properties such as: consistency, conservativity, positivity, preservation of equilibria, ... It is one of the major achievements of the team but it needs to be analyzed and extended in several directions namely:
The convergence of the multilayer system towards the hydrostatic Euler system as the number of layers goes to infinity is a critical point. It is not fully satisfactory to have only formal estimates of the convergence and sharp estimates would provide an optimal number of layers.
The introduction of several source terms due for instance to the Coriolis force or extra terms from changes of coordinates seems necessary. Their inclusion should lead to substantial modifications of the numerical scheme.
Its hyperbolicity has not yet been proven and conversely the possible loss of hyperbolicity cannot be characterised. Similarly, the hyperbolic feature is essential in the propagation and generation of waves.
The hydrostatic assumption consists in neglecting the vertical acceleration of the fluid. It is considered valid for a large class of geophysical flows but is restrictive in various situations where the dispersive effects (like wave propagation) cannot be neglected. For instance, when a wave reaches the coast, bathymetry variations give a vertical acceleration to the fluid that strongly modifies the wave characteristics and especially its height.
Processing an asymptotic expansion (w.r.t. the aspect ratio for shallow water flows) into the Navier-Stokes equations, we obtain at the leading order the Saint-Venant system. Going one step further leads to a vertically averaged version of the Euler/Navier-Stokes equations involving some non-hydrostatic terms. This model has several advantages:
The coupling of hydrodynamic equations with other equations in order to model interactions between complex systems represents an important part of the team research. More precisely, three multi-physics systems are investigated. More details about the industrial impact of these studies are presented in the following section.
To estimate the risk for infrastructures in coastal zones or close to a river, the resolution of the shallow water equations with moving bathymetry is necessary. The first step consisted in the study of an additional equation largely used in engineering science: The Exner equation. The analysis enabled to exhibit drawbacks of the coupled model such as the lack of energy conservation or the strong variations of the solution from small perturbations. A new formulation is proposed to avoid these drawbacks. The new model consists in a coupling between conservation laws and an elliptic equation, like the Euler/Poisson system, suggesting to use well-known strategies for the analysis and the numerical resolution. In addition, the new formulation is derived from classical complex rheology models and allowed physical phenomena like threshold laws.
Interaction between flows and floating structures is the challenge at the scale of the shallow water equations. This study requires a better understanding of the energy exchanges between the flow and the structure. The mathematical model of floating structures is very hard to solve numerically due to the non-penetration condition at the interface between the flow and the structure. It leads to infinite potential wave speeds that could not be solved with classical free surface numerical schemes. A relaxation model was derived to overcome this difficulty. It represents the interaction with the floating structure with a free surface model-type.
If the interactions between hydrodynamics and biology phenomena are known through laboratory experiments, it is more difficult to predict the evolution, especially for the biological quantities, in a real and heterogeneous system. The objective is to model and reproduce the hydrodynamics modifications due to forcing term variations (in time and space). We are typically interested in phenomena such as eutrophication, development of harmful bacteria (cyanobacteria) and upwelling phenomena.
Data assimilation and inverse modelling
In environmental applications, the most accurate numerical models remain subject to uncertainties that originate from their parameters and shortcomings in their physical formulations. It is often desirable to quantify the resulting uncertainties in a model forecast. The propagation of the uncertainties may require the generation of ensembles of simulations that ideally sample from the probability density function of the forecast variables. Classical approaches rely on multiple models and on Monte Carlo simulations. The applied perturbations need to be calibrated for the ensemble of simulations to properly sample the uncertainties. Calibrations involve ensemble scores that compare the consistency between the ensemble simulations and the observational data. The computational requirements are so high that designing fast surrogate models or metamodels is often required.
In order to reduce the uncertainties, the fixed or mobile observations of various origins and accuracies can be merged with the simulation results. The uncertainties in the observations and their representativeness also need to be quantified in the process. The assimilation strategy can be formulated in terms of state estimation or parameter estimation (also called inverse modelling). Different algorithms are employed for static and dynamic models, for analyses and forecasts. A challenging question lies in the optimization of the observational network for the assimilation to be the most efficient at a given observational cost.