A coupled waves-currents-bathymetric evolution model (DELFT-3D) is compared with field measurements to test hypotheses regarding the processes responsible for alongshore varying nearshore morphological changes at seasonal time scales. A 2001 field experiment, along the beaches adjacent to Grays Harbor, Washington, USA, captured the transition between the high-energy erosive conditions of winter and the low-energy beach-building conditions typical of summer. The experiment documented shoreline progradation on the order of 10-20 m and on average approximately 70 m of onshore sandbar migration during a four-month period. Significant alongshore variability was observed in the morphological response of the sandbar over a 4 km reach of coast with sandbar movement ranging from 20 m of offshore migration to over 175 m of onshore bar migration, the largest seasonal-scale onshore migration event observed in a natural setting. Both observations and model results suggest that, in the case investigated here, alongshore variations in initial bathymetry are primarily responsible for the observed alongshore variable morphological changes. Alongshore varying incident hydrodynamic forcing, occasionally significant in this region due to a tidal inlet and associated ebb-tidal delta, was relatively minor during the study period and appears to play an insignificant role in the observed alongshore variability in sandbar behavior at kilometer-scale. The role of fully three-dimensional cell circulation patterns in explaining the observed morphological variability also appears to be minor, at least in the case investigated here. ?? 2009 Elsevier B.V.
Additional publication details
Seasonal-scale nearshore morphological evolution: Field observations and numerical modeling