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Combined Wind-Wave Loading on Coastal Structures

Coastal structure with wind and wave loading
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Motivation & Objective

During extreme weather events such as hurricanes, coastal and offshore structures experience complex multi-physics loading from a combination of high winds, storm surge, and waves. Hurricanes cause damages on the order of tens of billions of dollars in the US alone each year[1], yet the coupled interactions of this multi-physics loading is not fully understood.

Experimental investigations of these interactions are limited by inherent discrepancies in scaling factors between wave loading, wind loading, and structural properties. Scaled experimental simulations are often de-coupled, representing only one set of physics with idealized or neglected boundary conditions in place of a fully-coupled representation. For example, a wave-loading only experiment may neglect the effects of wind on the structure and on the waves themselves, when in reality the wind flow over the waves may affect the waves and the presence of waves may affect the peak pressures that the structure experiences from the wind flow.

The objective of this research is to improve understanding of the multi-physics interactions of wind and wave loading on coastal structures through the use of computational models validated by de-coupled, one-way coupled, and fully-coupled experimental data sets.


Two-dimensional multiphase RANS models will be developed and initially validated using wave-only data collected from the Oregon State University Large Wave Flume (LWF). Models will be developed using open source CFD software OpenFOAM and wave-generating boundary conditions will be implemented using IHFOAM.

Simulation sensitivity to parameters including turbulence model, mesh resolution, wave absorption boundary conditions, and more will be investigated. Once initially validated, modeling will be expanded to 3D simulations and to incorporate wind loading inputs, as well as compared to further data sets in order to evaluate robustness.

Acknowledgement and Resources

[1] Baradaranshoraka, M., J. P. Pinelli, K. Gurley, X. Peng, and M. Zhao. 2017. “Hurricane wind versus storm surge damage in the context of a risk prediction model.” J. Struct. Eng. 143 (9): 04017103.