Large-eddy simulation of wave-breaking induced turbulent coherent structures and suspended sediment transport on a barred beach

Zheyu Zhou, Tian Jian Hsu, Daniel Cox, Xiaofeng Liu

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33 Scopus citations


To understand the interaction between wave-breaking induced turbulent coherent structures and suspended sediment transport, we report a Large-Eddy Simulation (LES) study of wave-breaking processes over a near-prototype scale barred beach. The numerical model is implemented using the open-source CFD toolbox, OpenFOAM®, in which the incompressible three-dimensional filtered Navier-Stokes equations for the water and air phases are solved with a finite volume scheme. A volume of fluid (VOF) method is used to capture the evolution of the water-air interface. The numerical model is validated with measured free surface elevation, turbulence-averaged flow velocity, turbulent intensity, and for the first time, the intermittency of breaking wave turbulence. Simulation results confirm that as the obliquely descending eddies (ODEs) approach the bottom, significant bottom shear stress is generated. Remarkably, the collapse of ODEs onto the bed can also cause drastic spatial and temporal changes of dynamic pressure on the bottom. By allowing sediment to be suspended from the bar crest, intermittently high sediment suspension events and their correlation with high turbulence and/or high bottom shear stress events are investigated. The simulated intermittency of sediment suspension is similar to previous field and large wave flume observations. Coherent suspension events account for only 10% of the record but account for about 50% of the sediment load. Model results suggest that about 60%∼70% of coherent bottom stress events are associated with surface-generated turbulence. Nearly all the coherent sand suspension events are associated with coherent turbulence events due to wave-breaking turbulence approaching the bed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-235
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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