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Field and model studies of the nearshore circulation.

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Investigations into the characteristics and underlying mechanism of the circulation of water near the shore are reported. The two main types of circulation, one a cellular system resulting from Haves propagated nearly normally to the shore, and the other an essentially alongshore flow associated with oblique waves, are treated separately. The cellular circulation studies were made in the field at Virginia Beach and more extensively in wave tanks. From the field experiments data were collected about the dimensions of the cells, the way in which the Hater circulated, the rate of exchance of surf zone water and the extent of recycling. A method for measuring the changes in the mean sea level over intervals of time greater than those of the wave periods, was developed. The model experiments carried out in uniform wave tanks showed that the cellular circulations could be well simulated. Measurements were made of the cell dimensions, the velocity of the longshore and rip currents, and of the recycling regime. A finding from the wave tank studies Has the presence of standing waves formed by transverse edge waves. The interaction of these standing waves with the gene rated waves normal to the shore could be the initial cause of rip currents and the cellular circulation. Studies of the alongshore system were made in the field only. A method for measuring the volume of flow of longshore currents was developed, tested, and applied. Calculated volumes of flow using a theory based on continuity and the solitary wave theory (as proposed by Inman and Bagnold) compared tolerably well with the field observations. The calculations of volume of flow required a knowledge of the wave height spectra in the surf. This was established by making wave height recordings in the between-breaker zone . It was found that the characteristics of the spectra compared reasonably well with those pr e dict ed by the Longuet-Higgins theory, previously assumed to apply to deep water waves only. A mechanism for the transition from cellular to alongshore system is proposed.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of Natal, 1967.


Waves., Water waves., Hydrodynamics., Theses-Physics., Wave mechanics., Ocean waves., Ocean circulation., Waste disposal in the ocean--KwaZulu-Natal., Theses--Physics.