Harris, Daniel L., Power, Hannah E., Kinsela, Michael A., Webster, Jody M. and Vila-Concejo, Ana (2018) Variability of depth-limited waves in coral reef surf zones. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 211 . pp. 36-44. DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2018.06.010.

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Abstract

Wave breaking and transformation on coral reef flats is an important process protecting tropical coastlines and regulating the energy regimes of coral reefs. However, the high hydraulic roughness, shallow water, and steep bathymetries of coral reefs may confound common surf zone assumptions, such as a depth-limited and saturated surf zone with a constant wave height to water depth ratio (γ). Here, we examine wave transformation across a coral reef flat, during three separate swell events, on both a time-averaged and a wave-by-wave basis. We use the relationship between significant wave height and water depth (γs) to examine the change in surf saturation across the reef flat and compare the measured wave height decay to results of modelled wave energy dissipation in the surf zone. Our results show that γs was not cross-reef constant and varied according to location on the reef flat and local water depth. On average, γs was greatest at the outer reef flat, near the reef crest, and progressively reduced towards the inner reef flat, near the reef lagoon. This was most pronounced in shallow water with large γs values (γs > 0.85) at the outer reef flat and small γs values (γs < 0.1) at the inner reef flat. This indicates that there is an increase in wave energy dissipation in shallow water, most likely due to increased breaker and bed frictional dissipation. The measured wave energy dissipation across the entire reef flat could, on average, be modelled accurately; however, this required location specific calibration of the free parameters, the wave friction factor (fw) and γ, and further suggests that there is no value for either parameter that is universally applicable to coral reef flats. Despite model calibration inaccuracies were still observed, primarily at the outer reef flat. These inaccuracies reflected the observed cross-reef variation of γ on the reef flat and potentially the limitations of random wave breaker dissipation models in complex surf zones. Our results have implications for the use of wave energy dissipation models in predicting breaker dissipation and subsequent benthic community change on coral reef flats, and suggest that careful consideration of the free parameters in such models (such as fw and γ) is required.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: Biogeochemistry and Geology > Geoecology & Carbonate Sedimentology
Affiliations > Not ZMT
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2018.06.010
ISSN: 02727714
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2019 15:34
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2020 12:58
URI: http://cris.leibniz-zmt.de/id/eprint/1984

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