Modelling the effect of suspended load transport and tidal asymmetry on the equilibrium tidal sand wave height

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    Tidal sand waves are rhythmic bed forms found in shallow sandy coastal seas, reaching heights up to ten meters and migration rates of several meters per year. Because of their dynamic behaviour, unravelling the physical processes behind the growth of these bed forms is of particular interest to science and offshore industries. Various modelling efforts have given a good description of the initial stages of sand wave formation by adopting a linear stability analysis on the coupled system of water movement and the sandy seabed. However, the physical processes causing sand waves to grow towards equilibrium are far from understood. We adopt a numerical shallow water model (Delft3D) to study the growth of sand waves towards a stable equilibrium.

    It is shown that both suspended load transport and tidal asymmetry reduce the equilibrium sand wave height. A residual current results in asymmetrical bed forms that migrate in the direction of the residual current. The combination of suspended load transport and tidal asymmetry results in predicted equilibrium wave heights comparable to wave heights found in the field.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)56-64
    Number of pages9
    JournalCoastal engineering
    Early online date22 Feb 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018



    • Delft3D
    • Equilibrium height
    • Morphodynamic modelling
    • North Sea
    • Tidal sand waves

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