Field observations of shear waves in the surf zone

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Noyes, T. James
Guza, R. T.
Elgar, Steve
Herbers, T. H. C.
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Shear waves
Longshore currents
Surf zone
Alongshore propagating meanders of the mean alongshore current in the surf zone called shear waves have periods of a few minutes and wavelengths of a few hundred meters. Here shear wave properties are estimated with arrays of current meters deployed for 4 months within 300 m of the shoreline of a sandy beach. Shear wave velocity fluctuations are approximately horizontally isotropic, with root mean square values between 10 and 40% of the mean (3-hour-averaged) alongshore current V. Cross-shore variations of the time-averaged shear wave momentum flux are consistent with shear wave energy generation close to shore where the breaking wave-driven mean alongshore current V and current shear Vx are strong and with shear wave energy dissipation and transfer back to the mean flow farther offshore where V and Vx are weak. In case studies where V is a narrow jet near the shoreline the observed strong decay of shear wave energy levels seaward of the jet, and the cross-shore and alongshore structure of shear waves within the jet, are similar to predictions based on the linearly unstable modes of the observed V. Shear wave energy levels also are high in a marginally unstable case with a strong, but weakly sheared, V.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2004. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research 109 (2004): C01031, doi:10.1029/2002JC001761.
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Journal of Geophysical Research 109 (2004): C01031
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