Dynamic equilibrium theory (DET) has been applied to tidal flats to systematically explain intertidal morphological responses to various distributions of bed shear stress (BSS). However, it is difficult to verify this theory with field observations because of the discrepancy between the idealized conceptions of theory and the complex reality of intertidal dynamics. The core relation between intertidal morphodynamics and BSS distribution can be easily masked by noise in complex datasets, leading to conclusions of insufficient field evidence to support DET. In the current study, hydrodynamic and morphodynamic data were monitored daily for one year on two tidal flats with contrasting wave exposures. BSS distribution was obtained by validated numerical models. Tidal flat dynamic equilibrium behaviour and BSS were linked via Empirical Orthogonal Function (EOF) analysis. We show that the principal morphodynamic modes corresponded well with the respective modes of BSS found at both sites. Tide-induced BSS was the dominant force at both sites, regardless of the level of wave exposure. The overall erosional and steepening trend found at the two flats can be attributed to the prevailing action of tidal forcing and reduced sediment supply. Hence, EOF analysis confirmed that tidal flat morphodynamics are consistent with DET, providing both field and model evidence to support this theory.
Hu, Z., van der Wal, D., Cai, H., Van Belzen, J., & Bouma, T. J. (2018). Dynamic equilibrium behaviour observed on two contrasting tidal flats from daily monitoring of bed-level changes. Geomorphology, 311, 114-126. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2018.03.025