Infragravity waves are key components of the hydro‐sedimentary processes in coastal areas, especially during extreme storms. Accurate modeling of coastal erosion and breaching requires consideration of the effects of infragravity waves. Here, we present InWave, a new infragravity wave driver of the Coupled Ocean‐Atmopshere‐Waves‐Sediment Transport (COAWST) modeling system. InWave computes the spatial and temporal variation of wave energy at the wave group scale and the associated incoming bound infragravity wave. Wave group‐varying forces drive free infragravity wave growth and propagation within the hydrodynamic model of the coupled modeling system, which is the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) in this work. Since ROMS is a three‐dimensional model, this coupling allows for the combined formation of undertow currents and infragravity waves. We verified the coupled InWave‐ROMS with one idealized test case, one laboratory experiment, and one field experiment. The coupled modeling system correctly reproduced the propagation of gravity wave energy with acceptable numerical dissipation. It also captured the transfer of energy from the gravity band to the infragravity band, and within the different infragravity bands in the surf zone, the measured three‐dimensional flow structure, and dune morphological evolution satisfactorily. The idealized case demonstrated that the infragravity wave variance depends on the directional resolution and horizontal grid resolution, which are known challenges with the approach taken here. The addition of InWave to COAWST enables novel investigation of nearshore hydro‐sedimentary dynamics driven by infragravity waves using the strengths of the other modeling components, namely the three‐dimensional nature of ROMS and the sediment transport routines.
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Hurricane Florence (2018) devastated the coastal communities of the Carolinas through heavy rainfall that resulted in massive flooding. Florence was characterized by an abrupt reduction in intensity (Saffir–Simpson category 4 to category 1) just prior to landfall and synoptic-scale interactions that stalled the storm over the Carolinas for several days. We conducted a series of numerical modeling experiments in coupled and uncoupled configurations to examine the impact of sea surface temperature (SST) and ocean waves on storm characteristics. In addition to experiments using a fully coupled atmosphere–ocean–wave model, we introduced the capability of the atmospheric model to modulate wind stress and surface fluxes by ocean waves through data from an uncoupled wave model. We examined these experiments by comparing track, intensity, strength, SST, storm structure, wave height, surface roughness, heat fluxes, and precipitation in order to determine the impacts of resolving ocean conditions with varying degrees of coupling. We found differences in the storm’s intensity and strength, with the best correlation coefficient of intensity (
r= 0.89) and strength ( r= 0.95) coming from the fully coupled simulations. Further analysis into surface roughness parameterizations added to the atmospheric model revealed differences in the spatial distribution and magnitude of the largest roughness lengths. Adding ocean and wave features to the model further modified the fluxes due to more realistic cooling beneath the storm, which in turn modified the precipitation field. Our experiments highlight significant differences in how air–sea processes impact hurricane modeling. The storm characteristics of track, intensity, strength, and precipitation at landfall are crucial to predictability and forecasting of future landfalling hurricanes.
Physical processes driving barrier island change during storms are important to understand to mitigate coastal hazards and to evaluate conceptual models for barrier evolution. Spatial variations in barrier island topography, landcover characteristics, and nearshore and back‐barrier hydrodynamics can yield complex morphological change that requires models of increasing resolution and physical complexity to predict. Using the Coupled Ocean‐Atmosphere‐Wave‐Sediment Transport (COAWST) modeling system, we investigated two barrier island breaches that occurred on Fire Island, NY during Hurricane Sandy (2012) and at Matanzas, FL during Hurricane Matthew (2016). The model employed a recently implemented infragravity (IG) wave driver to represent the important effects of IG waves on nearshore water levels and sediment transport. The model simulated breaching and other changes with good skill at both locations, resolving differences in the processes and evolution. The breach simulated at Fire Island was 250 m west of the observed breach, whereas the breach simulated at Matanzas was within 100 m of the observed breach. Implementation of the vegetation module of COAWST to allow three‐dimensional drag over dune vegetation at Fire Island improved model skill by decreasing flows across the back‐barrier, as opposed to varying bottom roughness that did not positively alter model response. Analysis of breach processes at Matanzas indicated that both far‐field and local hydrodynamics influenced breach creation and evolution, including remotely generated waves and surge, but also surge propagation through back‐barrier waterways. This work underscores the importance of resolving the complexity of nearshore and back‐barrier systems when predicting barrier island change during extreme events.