The importance of time-varying, non-tidal currents in modelling in-situ sand wave dynamics

P.H.P. Overes*, B.W. Borsje, A.P. Luijendijk, S.J.M.H. Hulscher

*Corresponding author for this work

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Sand waves are found on shallow, sandy seabeds throughout the world and their dynamics may pose an imminent threat to offshore construction. Therefore, there is a pressing need to understand bed level dynamics in sand wave areas. These bed level dynamics lead to variations in sand wave shape and migration rate over time. However, these variations cannot be explained with the present-day process-based sand wave models, which all include a purely periodic tidal forcing. To explain these fluctuations a more intricate description of the hydrodynamics is necessary. The aim of this study is to explore the importance of time-varying, non-tidal currents for sand wave dynamics in the North Sea. We adopted the three-dimensional Delft3D-Flexible Mesh model, and were able to reconstruct time-varying, non-tidal currents on top of the periodic tidal forcing, while significantly reducing computation times. The simulated currents and water levels showed a good agreement with in-situ measurements. Compared to the situation with only tidal forcing, the simulated sedimentation and erosion rates were amplified up to 15 times due to time-varying, non-tidal currents. Additionally, periods of net erosion were found at locations in the sand wave transect where tidally forced models only showed net-sedimentation. It is therefore important to consider time-varying, non-tidal currents when predicting future sand wave dynamics in the field.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104480
Number of pages13
JournalCoastal engineering
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2024


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