Monday, 15 December 2014: 2:10 PM
Maitane Olabarrieta, University of Florida, Ft Walton Beach, FL, United States and Xavier Bertin, Université de La Rochelle, La Rochelle, France

Infragravity (IG) waves have received a growing attention over the last decade and they have been shown to partly control dune erosion, barrier breaching, development of seiches in harbors or the circulation on fringing reefs. Although the relevance IG waves in surf and swash zone dynamics is well recognized, their dynamics and effects on tidal inlets and estuaries have not been analyzed. This study investigates the importance of IG waves at Albufeira Lagoon Inlet, a shallow wave-dominated inlet located on the western Coast of Portugal. Water levels and currents were measured synchronously during a two-day field experiment carried out at Albufeira Lagoon Inlet in September 2010. Apart from the tidally induced gravity wave modulations and wave induced setup inside the lagoon, an important IG wave contribution was identified. Low frequency oscillations were noticeable in the free surface elevation records and produced fluctuations of up to 100% in current intensities. While IG waves in the ebb shoal were present during the whole tidal cycle, the absence of IG waves characterized the ebbing tide inside the lagoon. The energy in the IG frequency band gradually increased from low tide to high tide, and disappeared during the ebbing tide. The modeling system Xbeach was applied to hindcast the hydrodynamics during the field experiment period. The model captures the main physics related with the IG wave generation and propagation inside the inlet, and reproduced the IG blocking during the ebb as identified in the measurements. This behavior was explained by the combination of advection and wave blocking induced by opposing tidal currents. Both measurements and numerical results suggested the bound wave release as the dominant mechanism responsible for IG wave generation. The fact that IG waves only propagate at flood tide has strong implications on the sediment balance of the inlet and contribute to inlet infilling under energetic wave conditions. It is expected that IG waves contribute to the shoaling or closure of wave-dominated inlets during winter months, although this hypothesis will have to be verified at other sites.