Numerical study on impacts of a concurrent storm-tide-tsunami event in Macau and Hong Kong

Jinghua Wang, Philip L.F. Liu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Intensified activities of tropical cyclones in the Western North Pacific have imposed increasing threats to coastal cities in the context of global climate change. A storm surge superimposed with astronomical high tide, i.e., a storm-tide event, often causes severe flooding in many coastal cities in South China Sea (SCS) region. Meanwhile, the potential tsunami hazard associated with the megathrust in Manila subduction zone has become a serious concern in this region. These two kinds of coastal hazard have been studied independently in the past since they are caused by different physical mechanisms in nature. However, there is no scientific reason to rule out the possibility of concurrence of a storm-tide-tsunami event, which is admittedly rare. This study simulates a group of synthetic events assuming that tsunami waves are generated by a Mw 9 earthquake in the Manila subduction zone during a typhoon, which has the same characteristics as the 2017 Typhoon Hato. A numerical model package originally developed for storm-tide calculation has been modified to simulate a concurrent storm-tide-tsunami event. A variety of scenarios are considered as the tsunamis are superimposed at different phases of the storm-tide event. Their compound impacts on Macau and Hong Kong in Pearl River Delta, China, are investigated. Specifically, the results of water level, arrival time of the maximum water level, flow velocity, and inundation depth are discussed. The worst-case scenarios have been identified at Macau and Hong Kong, respectively. The scenario with tsunami being initiated at 07:00 on 23-Aug-2017 leads to an inundated area of 12.0 km2 in Macau. On the other hand, the scenario with tsunami being started at 08:10 on the same day generates an inundation area of 8.9 km2 in the vicinity of Kai Tak terminal region in Hong Kong. In addition, the efficacy of the linear superposition of results obtained separately for each hazard (i.e., typhoon and tsunamis) is also discussed. Generally speaking, the differences between the linearly superimposed solutions and fully coupled results vary temporally and spatially and could be either positive or negative. However, the linearly superimposed solutions consistently underestimate the maximum water elevation and yield delays on the arrival times of peak flooding stage in the Pearl River estuary. It is concluded that for coastal protection and hazard mitigation planning in this region, these extreme situations need to be considered. A fully coupled numerical model package is now available for conducting such studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104000
JournalCoastal Engineering
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Coastal flooding
  • Fully coupled model
  • Storm surge
  • Tsunamis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Ocean Engineering


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