Journal article

Numerical experiments on breaking waves on contrasting beaches using a two-phase flow approach

A mechanistic understanding of beach environments needs to account for interactions of oceanic forcing and beach materials, in particular the role of waves on the evolution of the beach profile. A fully coupled two-phase flow model was used to simulate nearshore fluid-sediment turbulent flow in the cross-shore direction. It includes the Reynolds- Averaged Navier-Stokes equations and turbulent stress closures for each phase, and accounts for inter-granular stresses. The model has previously been validated using laboratory-scale data, so the results are likely more reliable for that scale. It was used to simulate wave breaking and the ensuing hydrodynamics and sediment transport processes in the surf/swash zones. Numerical experiments were conducted to investigate the effects of varying beach and wave characteristics (e.g., beach slope, sediment grain size, wave periods and heights) on the foreshore profile changes. Spilling and plunging breakers occur on dissipative and intermediate beaches, respectively. The impact of these wave/beach types on nearshore zone hydrodynamics and beach morphology was determined. The numerical results showed that turbulent kinetic energy, sediment concentrations and transport rate are greater on intermediate than on dissipative beaches. The results confirmed that wave energy, beach grain size and bed slope are main factors for sediment transport and beach morphodynamics. The location of the maximum sediment transport is near the breaking point for both beach types. Coarse- and fine-sand beaches differ significantly in their erosive characteristics (e.g., foreshore profile evolutions are erosive and accretionary on the fine and coarse sand beaches, respectively). In addition, a new parameter (based on main driving factors) is proposed that can characterize the sediment transport in the surf and swash zones. The results are consistent with existing physical observations, suggesting that the two-phase flow model is suitable for the simulation of hyperconcentrated mixed water-sediment flows in the nearshore. The model thus has potential as a useful tool for investigating interactions between nearshore hydrodynamics and beach morphology.

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