skip to main content


Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Elgar, Steve"

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Waves running up and down the beach (‘swash’) at the landward edge of the ocean can cause changes to the beach topology, can erode dunes, and can result in inland flooding. Despite the importance of swash, field observations are difficult to obtain in the thin, bubbly, and potentially sediment laden fluid layers. Here, swash excursions along an Atlantic Ocean beach are estimated with a new framework, V-BeachNet, that uses a fully convolutional network to distinguish between sand and the moving edge of the wave in rapid sequences of images. V-BeachNet is trained with 16 randomly selected and manually segmented images of the swash zone, and is used to estimate swash excursions along 200 m of the shoreline by automatically segmenting four 1-h sequences of images that span a range of incident wave conditions. Data from a scanning lidar system are used to validate the swash estimates along a cross-shore transect within the camera field of view. V-BeachNet estimates of swash spectra, significant wave heights, and wave-driven setup (increases in the mean water level) agree with those estimated from the lidar data. 
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2025
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  3. Low-frequency, many-minute-period horizontal surfzone eddies are an important mechanism for the dispersion of material, transporting larvae, pollutants, sediment, and swimmers both across and along the nearshore. Previous numerical, laboratory, and field observations on alongshore uniform bathymetry with no or roughly uniform mean background flows suggest that the low-frequency eddies may be the result of a two-dimensional inverse energy cascade that transfers energy from relatively small spatial-scale vorticity injected by depth limited breaking waves to larger and larger spatial scales. Here, using remotely sensed high-spatial resolution estimates of currents, those results are extended to surfzones with strong complex mean circulation patterns [flows O(1 m/s)] owing to nonuniform bathymetry. Similar to previous results, wavenumber spectra and second-order structure functions calculated from the observations are consistent with a two-dimensional inverse energy cascade. The size of the largest eddies is shown to depend on the surfzone width and the spatial scales of the mean currents. Third-order structure functions also are consistent with an inverse cascade for spatial scales greater than ∼50 m. At smaller scales, the third-order structure functions suggest a mixture of inverse and forward cascades.

     
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  4. Abstract

    The cross‐shore transformation of breaking‐wave roller momentum and energy on observed barred surfzone bathymetry is investigated with a two‐phase Reynolds Averaged Navier Stokes model driven with measured incident waves. Modeled wave spectra, wave heights, and wave‐driven increases in the mean water level (setup) agree well with field observations along transects extending from 5‐m water depth to the shoreline. Consistent with prior results the roller forcing contributes 50%–60% to the setup, whereas the advective terms contribute ∼20%, with the contribution of bottom stress largest (up to 20%) for shallow sandbar crest depths. The model simulations suggest that an energy‐flux balance between wave dissipation, roller energy, and roller dissipation is accurate. However, as little as 70% of the modeled wave energy ultimately dissipated by breaking was first transferred from the wave to the roller. Furthermore, of the energy transferred to the roller, 15%–25% is dissipated by turbulence in the water column below the roller, with the majority of energy dissipated in the aerated region or near the roller‐surface interface. The contributions of turbulence to the momentum balance are sensitive to the parameterized turbulent anisotropy, which observations suggest increases with increasing turbulence intensity. Here, modeled turbulent kinetic energy dissipation decreases with increasing depth of the sandbar crest, possibly reflecting a change from plunging (on the steeper offshore slope of the bar) to spilling breakers (over the flatter bar crest and trough). Thus, using a variable roller front slope in the roller‐wave energy flux balance may account for these variations in breaker type.

     
    more » « less
  5. Abstract. Ocean surges pose a global threat for coastal stability.These hazardous events alter flow conditions and pore pressures in floodedbeach areas during both inundation and subsequent retreat stages, which canmobilize beach material, potentially enhancing erosion significantly. Inthis study, the evolution of surge-induced pore-pressure gradients is studied through numerical hydrologic simulations of storm surges. The spatiotemporal variability of critically high gradients is analyzed in three dimensions. The analysis is based on a threshold value obtained for quicksand formationof beach materials under groundwater seepage. Simulations of surge eventsshow that, during the run-up stage, head gradients can rise to the calculated critical level landward of the advancing inundation line. During thereceding stage, critical gradients were simulated seaward of the retreatinginundation line. These gradients reach maximum magnitudes just as sea levelreturns to pre-surge levels and are most accentuated beneath the still-water shoreline, where the model surface changes slope. The gradients vary alongthe shore owing to variable beach morphology, with the largest gradientsseaward of intermediate-scale (1–3 m elevation) topographic elements (dunes)in the flood zone. These findings suggest that the common practices inmonitoring and mitigating surge-induced failures and erosion, which typically focus on the flattest areas of beaches, might need to be revised to include other topographic features. 
    more » « less
  6. null (Ed.)
  7. null (Ed.)
  8. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Low-frequency currents and eddies transport sediment, pathogens, larvae, and heat along the coast and between the shoreline and deeper water. Here, low-frequency currents (between 0.1 and 4.0 mHz) observed in shallow surfzone waters for 120 days during a wide range of wave conditions are compared with theories for generation by instabilities of alongshore currents, by ocean-wave-induced sea surface modulations, and by a nonlinear transfer of energy from breaking waves to low-frequency motions via a two-dimensional inverse energy cascade. For these data, the low-frequency currents are not strongly correlated with shear of the alongshore current, with the strength of the alongshore current, or with wave-group statistics. In contrast, on many occasions, the low-frequency currents are consistent with an inverse energy cascade from breaking waves. The energy of the low-frequency surfzone currents increases with the directional spread of the wave field, consistent with vorticity injection by short-crested breaking waves, and structure functions increase with spatial lags, consistent with a cascade of energy from few-meter-scale vortices to larger-scale motions. These results include the first field evidence for the inverse energy cascade in the surfzone and suggest that breaking waves and nonlinear energy transfers should be considered when estimating nearshore transport processes across and along the coast. 
    more » « less