Surfzone vorticity in the presence of extreme bathymetric variability

Monday, 15 December 2014
David Clark, Steve Elgar and Britt Raubenheimer, WHOI, Woods Hole, MA, United States
Surfzone vorticity was measured at Duck, NC using a novel 5-m diameter vorticity sensor deployed in 1.75 m water depth. During the 4-week deployment the initially alongshore uniform bathymetry developed 200-m long mega-cusps with alongshore vertical changes of 1.5 m or more. When waves were small and the vorticity sensor was seaward of the surfzone, vorticity variance and mean vorticity varied with the tidally modulated water depth, consistent with a net seaward flux of surfzone-generated vorticity. Vorticity variance increased with incident wave heights up to 2-m. However, vorticity variance remained relatively constant for incident wave heights above 2-m, and suggests that eddy energy may become saturated in the inner surfzone during large wave events. In the presence of mega-cusps the mean vorticity (shear) is often large and generated by bathymetrically controlled rip currents, while vorticity variance remains strongly correlated with the incident wave height.

Funded by NSF, ASD(R&E), and WHOI Coastal Ocean Institute.