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Critical control in transcritical shallow-water flow over two obstacles

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posted on 18.11.2015, 16:23 by Roger Grimshaw, Montri Maleewong
The nonlinear shallow-water equations are often used to model flow over topography. In this paper we use these equations both analytically and numerically to study flow over two widely separated localised obstacles, and compare the outcome with the corresponding flow over a single localised obstacle. Initially we assume uniform flow with constant water depth, which is then perturbed by the obstacles. The upstream flow can be characterised as subcritical, supercritical and transcritical, respectively. We review the well-known theory for flow over a single localised obstacle, where in the transcritical regime the flow is characterised by a local hydraulic flow over the obstacle, contained between an elevation shock propagating upstream and a depression shock propagating downstream. Classical shock closure conditions are used to determine these shocks. Then we show that the same approach can be used to describe the flow over two widely spaced localised obstacles. The flow development can be characterised by two stages. The first stage is the generation of upstream elevation shock and downstream depression shock from each obstacle alone, isolated from the other obstacle. The second stage is the interaction of two shocks between the two obstacles, followed by an adjustment to a hydraulic flow over both obstacles, with criticality being controlled by the higher of the two obstacles, and by the second obstacle when they have equal heights. This hydraulic flow is terminated by an elevation shock propagating upstream of the first obstacle and a depression shock propagating downstream of the second obstacle. A weakly nonlinear model for sufficiently small obstacles is developed to describe this second stage. The theoretical results are compared with fully nonlinear simulations obtained using a well-balanced finite-volume method. The analytical results agree quite well with the nonlinear simulations for sufficiently small obstacles.


This work was supported by the Thailand Research Fund (TRF) and the Kasetsart University Research and Development Institute (KURDI) under grant no. RSA5680038 to the second author.



  • Science


  • Mathematical Sciences

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480 - 502 (23)


GRIMSHAW, R.H.J. and MALEEWONG, M., 2015. Critical control in transcritical shallow-water flow over two obstacles. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 780, pp. 480 - 502.


© Cambridge University Press


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



This article was published in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics [© Cambridge University Press] and the definitive version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/jfm.2015.485