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The observed relationship between wave conditions and beach response, Ocean Beach, San Francisco, CA

January 1, 2009

Understanding how sandy beaches respond to storms is critical for effective sediment management and developing successful erosion mitigation efforts. However, only limited progress has been made in relating observed beach changes to wave conditions, with one of the major limiting factors being the lack of temporally dense beach topography and nearshore wave data in most studies. This study uses temporally dense beach topographic and offshore wave data to directly link beach response and wave forcing with generally good results. Ocean Beach is an open coast high-energy sandy beach located in San Francisco, CA, USA. From April 2004 through the end of 2008, 60 three-dimensional topographic beach surveys were conducted on approximately a monthly basis, with more frequent “short-term surveys during the winters of 2005-06 and 2006-07. Shoreline position data from the short-term surveys show good correlation with offshore wave height, period, and direction averaged over several days prior to the survey (mean R*=0.54 for entire beach). There is, however, considerable alongshore variation in model performance, with R- values ranging from 0.81 to 0.19 for individual sections of the beach. After wave height, the direction of wave approach was the most important factor in determining the response of the shoreline, followed by wave period. Our results indicate that an empirical predictive model of beach response to wave conditions at Ocean Beach is possible with frequent beach mapping and wave data, and that such a model could be useful to coastal managers. 

Publication Year 2009
Title The observed relationship between wave conditions and beach response, Ocean Beach, San Francisco, CA
Authors J.E. Hansen, P.L. Barnard
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Coastal Research
Index ID 70041533
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center