Short-crested breaking waves that result from directionally spread wave conditions dissipate energy and generate turbulence within the surf zone, altering sediment transport processes, wave runup, and forces on structures. Additionally, vertical vorticity generated near crest ends during breaking, which depends on the gradient in wave height along a crest, may enhance nearshore dispersion of pollutants, nutrients, and larvae. Although directionally spread irregular wave fields are ubiquitous on ocean and large lake coastlines, the dependence of short-crested breaking wave characteristics (including the along-crest length and number of crest ends) on offshore wave conditions is not well established. To assess this relationship, laboratory experiments with alongshore-uniform barred bathymetry were performed in a large-scale directional wave basin. A three-dimensional scanning lidar, trinocular camera stereo processing methods, and in situ measurements were used to study short-crested wave field breaking characteristics in the laboratory, yielding a dataset with dense spatio-temporal coverage relative to prior laboratory or field measurements. Wave height estimates are similar for remotely sensed and in situ observations, except in the outer surf zone where plunging breaking occurred. Directional wave properties estimated with an array of in situ or remotely sensed sea-surface elevation estimates are similar and yield smaller directional spreads than single-point colocated pressure and velocity based in situ estimates when waves are less directionally spread. Using a breaking crest identification procedure combining visible imagery and stereo sea-surface elevation, we find that the average along-crest length of breaking waves decreases and the average number of crest ends increases with increasing directional spread. Relative to observations, a parameterized relationship between directional spread and crest characteristics based on theory for non-breaking, refracting waves generally over-estimates breaking crest lengths and is similar to or underestimates the total number of crest ends observed in the surf zone. The wave-field-dependent breaking-wave characteristics examined in the laboratory with remote sensing techniques can inform future investigations of depth-limited short-crested wave breaking and resulting surfzone eddy processes.
|Title||Remotely sensed short-crested breaking waves in a laboratory directional wave basin|
|Authors||Christine Baker, Melissa Moulton, Margaret Louise Palmsten, Katherine Brodie, Emma Nuss, C. Christopher Chickadel|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Coastal Engineering|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center|