Modeling surf zone-inner shelf exchange: Interaction of rip currents and stratification

Monday, 15 December 2014
Nirnimesh Kumar, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Integrative Oceanography Division, La Jolla, CA, United States and Falk Feddersen, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States
Transient rip currents on alongshore uniform beaches develop from the coalescence of surf zone eddies, exchanging tracers between the surf zone and the potentially stratified inner shelf. The interaction of stratification and transient rip currents has not yet been investigated. Surf zone eddies responsible for transient rip currents are generated by short-crested wave breaking, a process included in wave-resolving (WR) Boussinesq models. However, WR models are depth-integrated and cannot account for stratification and vertically sheared flows. Wave-averaged (WA) models can simulate these processes, but cannot create surf zone eddies. A combination of WR and WA models is required to accurately simulate surf zone-inner shelf exchange.

Here, WR depth-integrated Boussinessq model funwaveC is coupled to the stratification and depth-resolving WA Coupled-Ocean-Atmosphere-Wave-Sediment Transport (COAWST) modeling system. The surf zone eddy generation forcing is extracted from a funwaveC simulation of normally incident waves on a planar beach, and provided to COAWST as a depth-uniform surf zone force. COAWST model simulations resolving the surf zone to mid-shelf are conducted with surf zone eddy forcing, idealistic surface heating/cooling, stratification, and Coriolis effects. These simulations provide three-dimensional evolution of velocity and temperature, diagnosed to quantify the role of surf zone eddy forcing in surf zone-inner shelf exchange. The impact of stratification on rip currents and exchange is studied by varying the stratification. Funded by the Office of Naval Research.