Cohn, N., Ruggiero, P., Ortiz, J., D.J. Walstra, 2014. Investigating the role of complex sandbar morphology on nearshore hydrodynamics. In: Green, A.N. and Cooper, J.A.G. (eds.), Proceedings 13th International Coastal Symposium (Durban, South Africa), Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 70, pp. 053–058, ISSN 0749-0208.
Coastal environments are characterized by complex feedbacks between flow, sediment transport, and morphology, often resulting in the formation of nearshore sandbars. In many locations, such as Hasaki (Japan), the Netherlands, and the Columbia River Littoral Cell (CRLC, USA), these sandbars exhibit a net offshore migration (NOM) cycle whereby these features form in the inner surf zone, migrate seaward and decay offshore on interannual cycles. Depending on the stage of the cycle, the number and configuration of the bars may differ widely. It has long been recognized that sandbars act as natural barriers during storm events by dissipating wave energy through breaking far from the beach face. Thus, dependent on the stage of the NOM cycle, one might expect significant variability in nearshore hydrodynamics. Using a non-linear wave model we demonstrate that inter-annual variability in sandbar configuration can significantly alter inner surf zone and swash zone processes. The model indicates that under different end-member NOM stages the same wave conditions can result in up to a 36% variance in the vertical extent of infragravity runup and can alter both the rate and direction of net cross shore sediment transport.