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Incorporating wave climate complexity into modeling lower shoreface morphology and transport

May 16, 2023

The lower shoreface, a transitional subaqueous region extending from the seaward limit of the surf zone to beyond the closure depth, serves as a sediment reservoir and pathway in sandy beach environments over annual to millennial time scales. Despite the important role this region plays in shoreline dynamics, the morphodynamics of the lower shoreface remain poorly quantified and understood. To better understand controls on shoreface morphology, here we combine energetics-based suspended sediment transport formulae (Ortiz & Aston 2016) with empirical wave climate data to incorporate temporal complexity in modeled equilibrium profiles and sediment flux rates. The equilibrium shoreface shape computed using a full wave climate is steeper in shallower water and less steep in the deeper reaches compared to profiles computed using single wave characteristics. Using a full wave climate to simulate steady-state morphology will yield steeper profiles in shallow water. Suspended sediment transport rates also vary in direction and magnitude at different equilibrium profile depths and can potentially inform the location of morphodynamic boundaries in the shoreface. Our results reveal how infrequent storm waves affect shoreface slopes, with large events tending to drive sediment onshore in the deeper portions of the profile. This work explores a few ways to add complexity to simple energetics-based frameworks to reproduce empirical bathymetric data more accurately and provides insight toward refining coastal source-to-sink models.

Publication Year 2023
Title Incorporating wave climate complexity into modeling lower shoreface morphology and transport
DOI 10.1142/9789811275135_0260
Authors Megan Gillen, Andrew D. Ashton, Jennifer L. Miselis, Daniel J. Ciarletta, Emily A. Wei, Christopher R. Sherwood
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70243642
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center; Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center