All available satellite altimetry, coastal and marine data have been used to develop a new assimilative barotropic tidal model over the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and Coral Sea using the Oregon State University Tidal Inverse Software (OTIS) with the specific consideration of bathymetry and drag coefficients. The model, named the University of Newcastle Great Barrier Reef (UoNGBR), has a 2′ × 2′ spatial resolution and includes 37 major and shallow water tidal constituents. The key to the development of UoNGBR is the use of a high-resolution bathymetry model gbr100 (3.6″ × 3.6″, corresponding to 100 meters resolution) and a recent baroclinic GBR1 hydrodynamic model. The gbr100 provides more detailed and accurate bottom topography, while the GBR1 hydrodynamic model provides spatially variable drag coefficients. These are particularly important in our study area due to the existence of numerous islands, coral reefs and complex bottom topography. The UoNGBR and seven existing tidal models have been used to detide independent datasets from the coastal tide gauges and Sentinel-3A altimeter mission. The detided datasets are then compared to the UoNGBR-detided data. The results show that UoNGBR has the minimum root sum square value (25.1 cm) when compared to those (between 26.1 and 66.7 cm) from seven other models, indicating that UoNGBR is among the best models in predicting tidal heights in the GBR and Coral Sea. Over coastline and coastal zones, the UoNGBR’s mean RMS errors are ~18 and 5 cm, respectively, smaller than TPXO models, as well as about 1–5 cm smaller than FES2012 and FES2014. These suggest that the UoNGBR model is a major improvement over other models in coastline and coastal zones.
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