Improving the time resolution of surfzone bathymetry using in situ altimeters

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Moulton, Melissa
Elgar, Steve
Raubenheimer, Britt
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Bathymetric surveys
Rip channels
Rip currents
Surf zone
Surfzone bathymetry often is resolved poorly in time because watercraft surveys cannot be performed when waves are large, and remote sensing techniques have limited vertical accuracy. However, accurate high-frequency bathymetric information at fixed locations can be obtained from altimeters that sample nearly continuously, even during storms. A method is developed to generate temporally and spatially dense maps of evolving surfzone bathymetry by updating infrequent spatially dense watercraft surveys with the bathymetric change measured by a spatially sparse array of nearly continuously sampling altimeters. The update method is applied to observations of the evolution of shore-perpendicular rip current channels (dredged in Duck, NC, 2012) and shore-parallel sandbars (observed in Duck, NC, 1994). The updated maps are compared with maps made by temporally interpolating the watercraft surveys, and with maps made by spatially interpolating the altimeter measurements at any given time. Updated maps of the surfzone rip channels and sandbars are more accurate than maps obtained by using either only watercraft surveys or only the altimeter measurements. Hourly altimeter-updated bathymetric estimates of five rip channels show rapid migration and infill events not resolved by watercraft surveys alone. For a 2-month observational record of sandbars, altimeter-updated maps every 6 h between nearly daily surveys improve the time resolution of rapid bar-migration events.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2013. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Springer for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Ocean Dynamics 64 (2014): 755-770, doi:10.1007/s10236-014-0715-8.
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