Nonhydrostatic Numerical Modeling of Fixed and Mobile Barred Beaches: Limitations of Depth-Averaged Wave Resolving Models around Sandbars

Saber M. Elsayed*, Rik Gijsman, Torsten Schlurmann, Nils Goseberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
104 Downloads (Pure)


Along sandy coastlines, submerged, shore-parallel sandbars play an essential role in shoreline morphology by dissipating wave energy through depth-induced wave breaking. While wave breaking and sediment transport around sandbars are complex three-dimensional (3D) processes, shoreline morphology is typically simulated with depth-averaged models that feature lower computational demand than do 3D models. In this context, this study examines the implications of depth-averaging the flow field and approximating the breaking process in nonhydrostatic models (e.g., XBeach nonhydrostatic) for the hydro- and morphodynamic processes around sandbars. The implications are drawn based on reproducing large-scale experiments of a barred beach profile using the single-layer (XBNH) and the reduced two-layer (XBNH+) modes of XBeach. While hydrodynamic processes were predicted with high accuracy on the sandbar's seaward side, wave heights were overpredicted on the bar's landward side. The overestimation was due to the simplified reproduction of the complex breaking process near the sandbar's peak, particularly in terms of the generated turbulence in the water column. Moreover, the velocity profile with a strong undertow could only be represented in a simplified way even using the two-layer mode XBNH+, thus resulting in inaccurate predictions of sediment loads around the sandbar. A parametric study is performed, and it revealed which model parameters control the simulation of the wave-breaking process. Thus, wave height predictions could be improved by tuning the energy-dissipation parameters. However, flow velocities and morphodynamic predictions could not be improved accordingly. Thus, this study identifies possible hydrodynamic model improvements, such as incorporating a roller dissipation model. Moreover, it improves understanding of key drivers and processes that should be included in nonhydrostatic depth-averaged models to simulate morphological changes around sandbars more efficiently.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of waterway, port, coastal, and ocean engineering
Issue number1
Early online date9 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


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