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  1. Abstract

    A large‐scale laboratory experiment was conducted to evaluate cross‐shore sediment transport and bed response on a sandbar under erosive and accretive field‐scale wave conditions (total of 11 cases). Unprecedented vertical resolution of sediment concentration was achieved through the use of conductivity concentration profilers alongside miniature fiber optic backscatter profilers. Observations were made of intrawave (phase‐averaged) and wave‐averaged cross‐shore sediment flux profiles and transport rates in the lower half of the water column on the crest of a sandbar. The net sediment transport rate was partitioned into suspended sediment (SS) and bed load (BL) components to quantify the relative contributions of SS and BL to the total sediment transport rate. Net SS transport rates were greater than net BL transport rates for the positive (wave crest) half‐cycle in 6 of 11 cases, compared to 100% (11 of 11) for the negative (wave trough) half‐cycle. Net (wave‐averaged) BL transport rates were greater, in magnitude, than net SS transport rates for 7 of the 11 cases. The dominant mode of transport was determined from the ratio of net BL to net SS transport rate magnitudes. The net transport rate was negative (offshore‐directed) when SS dominated and positive (onshore‐directed) when BL dominated. Net BL transport rate correlated well with third moments of free‐stream velocity (r2 = 0.72), suggesting that energetics‐type quasi‐steady formulae may be suitable for predicting BL transport under the range of test conditions.

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