Journal article

Impacts of wave and tidal forcing on 3D nearshore processes on natural beaches. Part I: Flow and turbulence fields

The major objective of this study was to develop further understanding of 3D nearshore hydrodynamics under a variety of wave and tidal forcing conditions. The main tool used was a comprehensive 3D numerical model – combining the flow module of Delft3D with the WAVE solver of XBeach – of nearshore hydro- and morphodynamics that can simulate flow, sediment transport, and morphological evolution. Surf-swash zone hydrodynamics were modeled using the 3D Navier-Stokes equations, combined with various turbulence models (k-ε, k-L, ATM and H-LES). Sediment transport and resulting foreshore profile changes were approximated using different sediment transport relations that consider both bed- and suspended-load transport of non-cohesive sediments. The numerical set-up was tested against field data, with good agreement found. Different numerical experiments under a range of bed characteristics and incident wave and tidal conditions were run to test the model’s capability to reproduce 3D flow, wave propagation, sediment transport and morphodynamics in the nearshore at the field scale. The results were interpreted according to existing understanding of surf and swash zone processes. Our numerical experiments confirm that the angle between the crest line of the approaching wave and the shoreline defines the direction and strength of the longshore current, while the longshore current velocity varies across the nearshore zone. The model simulates the undertow, hydraulic cell and rip-current patterns generated by radiation stresses and longshore variability in wave heights. Numerical results show that a non-uniform seabed is crucial for generation of rip currents in the nearshore (when bed slope is uniform, rips are not generated). Increasing the wave height increases the peaks of eddy viscosity and TKE (turbulent kinetic energy), while increasing the tidal amplitude reduces these peaks. Wave and tide interaction has most striking effects on the foreshore profile with the formation of the intertidal bar. High values of eddy viscosity, TKE and wave set-up are spread offshore for coarser grain sizes. Beach profile steepness modifies the nearshore circulation pattern, significantly enhancing the vertical component of the flow. The local recirculation within the longshore current in the inshore region causes a transient offshore shift and strengthening of the longshore current. Overall, the analysis shows that, with reasonable hypotheses, it is possible to simulate the nearshore hydrodynamics subjected to oceanic forcing, consistent with existing understanding of this area. Part II of this work presents 3D nearshore morphodynamics induced by the tides and waves.

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