Cross-Shore and Inlets (CSI) Processes

Science Center Objects

Exchange of flows, sediment, and biological particles between the inner shelf and back-barrier estuaries are significant for determination of extreme water levels, maintenance and formation of inlets, barrier-island evolution, and pollutant and larval transport. These connections are controlled by cross-shore processes including wave-driven inner-shelf and near-shore processes, dune overtopping, breaching, transport through existing and new inlets, and estuarine circulation. The Cross-Shore and Inlets (CSI) Processes Project objectives are to further our understanding and increase our ability to predict the mechanisms of cross-shore processes driven by wave asymmetry and skewness, infragravity waves, wave-current interactions, and estuarine circulation that drive morphological change.

Project Tasks

 Model development

We have developed a unique numerical modeling system that allows computation for three-dimensional coupled ocean-atmosphere-wave-sediment transport (COAWST) processes. With the capabilities of grid refinement the modeling system can downscale from basin to nearshore resolution. We will add new capabilities to include infragravity waves (InWave), add new wave-asymmetry formulations, and link to other Projects (Estuarine Processes and BIER) with vegetation and shallow water physics. Continue training/support the ~700 international users.

 Cross-shore processes

Cross-shore processes that drive on/off-shore sediment fluxes have been identified as primary mechanisms controlling regional-scale sediment budgets. In this task we will identify regional locations where shoreline change is dominated by cross-shore (vs. alongshore) sediment processes. Targeted field and modeled approaches will be used to identify primary mechanisms of cross-shore sediment fluxes.

Inlet dynamics

Inlets provide the connection between the coastal ocean and backbarrier estuaries. We will investigate the processes that create new inlets (breaching), investigate the dynamics that control inlet stability and closure. Previous efforts at Pea Island breach, Fire Island, and ongoing at Matanzas River breach will investigate the morphodynamic responses of inlets to tides, infragravity waves, and wave-driven flows.

Shelf-Estuary exchange

Exchange of water and particles between back-barrier estuaries and the inner-shelf are controlled by inlet geometric configurations and the forcings of tidal, wind, and fresh water driven flows. Exchanges are influenced by nearshore processes such as wave-current interactions, infragravity waves, and morphodynamic change. This task will investigate controls on exchange of flows and material transport through inlets, specifically the interaction of waves and the vertical structure of the currents on sediment transport into the bay, ebb shoal effects, and sediment bypassing.

 Knowledge Exchange

Publications, outreach, provide access to data and model results via CMGP Portal.