Dune Erosion and Beach Profile Evolution in Response to Bichromatic Wave Groups
Berard, Neville Anne
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On sandy coastlines dunes provide a barrier of protection from strong environmental forces that can naturally occur during storm events including storm surges that expose the dunes to large waves. A set of laboratory experiments were used to investigate the morphological processes during the erosion of a steep dune face under bichromatic wave conditions for two different mean water level elevations, corresponding to storm surges and waves that collide with or overwash the dune. In the collision regime, episodic slumping due to the undercutting of the dune resulted in sudden erosional events followed by long periods of wave-driven reshaping at the dune toe. In the overwash regime, dune erosion was faster and occurred at a more consistent rate. Small scale bedforms (ripples) measured during the overwash test evolved in height faster and to greater overall heights than collision test while bedform lengths were not affected by the change in water level. A numerical model, XBeach, was calibrated to examine the ability to predict erosion of the steep dune due to waves in the two water level regimes. XBeach was not able to recreate the spatial variability of the significant wave height profile from the laboratory measurements; however, mean velocities were in good agreement with observations suggesting that bed shear stress is well estimated. During mobile bed simulations of erosion in the two regimes, the model was in agreement with measured dune erosion after initial adjustment. XBeach was very sensitive to several parameters that control the rate of erosion including the critical avalanching slope under water, the threshold water depth and the sediment transport formulation. The model did not perform well at predicting erosion rates until these parameters had been modified. Overall, XBeach performed better when simulating dune erosion in the overwash regime than the collision regime.