Rapid Assessment of Wave Height Transformation through a Tidal Inlet via Radar Remote Sensing

Monday, 15 December 2014
Guillermo Díaz Méndez1, Merrick C Haller1, Britt Raubenheimer2, Steve Elgar2 and David Honegger1, (1)Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, United States, (2)WHOI, Woods Hole, MA, United States
Radar has the potential to enable temporally and spatially dense, continuous monitoring of waves and currents in nearshore environments. If quantitative relationships between the remote sensing signals and the hydrodynamic parameters of interest can be found, remote sensing techniques can mitigate the challenges of continuous in situ sampling and possibly enable a better understanding of wave transformation in areas with strongly inhomogeneous along and across-shore bathymetry, currents, and dissipation.

As part of the DARLA experiment (New River Inlet, NC), the accuracy of a rapid assessment of wave height transformation via radar remote sensing is tested. Wave breaking events are identified in the radar image time series (Catalán et al. 2011). Once the total number of breaking waves (per radar collection) is mapped throughout the imaging domain, radar-derived bathymetry and wave frequency are used to compute wave breaking dissipation (Janssen and Battjes 2007). Given the wave breaking dissipation, the wave height transformation is calculated by finding an inverse solution to the 1D cross-shore energy flux equation (including the effect of refraction). The predicted wave height transformation is consistent (correlation R > 0.9 and rmse as low as 0.1 m) with the transformation observed with in situ sensors in an area of complex morphology and strong (> 1 m/s) tidal currents over a nine-day period. The wave forcing (i.e., radiation stress gradients) determined from the remote sensing methodology will be compared with values estimated with in situ sensors.

Funded by ONR and ASD(R&E)