Estimating Energy Dissipation Due to Wave Breaking in the Surf Zone Using Infrared Imagery
Carini, Roxanne Jane
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Wave breaking is the largest forcing mechanism in the surf zone. Therefore, quantifying energy dissipation due to wave breaking is important for improving models that seek to predict nearshore circulation, wave-current interactions, air-sea gas exchange, erosion and accretion of sediment, and storm surge. Wave energy dissipation is difficult to measure with in situ instruments, and even the most reliable estimates are limited to point measurements. Using remote sensing technologies, specifically infrared (IR) imagery, the high spatial and temporal variability of wave breaking may be sampled. Duncan (1981) proposed a model (D81) for dissipation on a wave-by-wave basis, based on wave slope and roller length, the crest-perpendicular length of the aerated region of a breaking wave. The wave roller is composed of active foam, which, in thermal IR images, appears brighter than the surrounding water and the residual foam, the foam left behind in the wake of a breaking wave. Using IR imagery taken during the Surf Zone Optics 2010 experiment at Duck, NC, and exploiting the distinct signature of active foam, a retrieval algorithm was developed to identify and extract breaking wave roller length. Roller length was then used to estimate dissipation rate via the D81 formulation. The D81 dissipation rate estimates compare reasonably to in situ dissipation estimates at a point. When the D81 estimates are compared to the bulk energy flux into the surf zone, it is found that wave breaking dissipates approximately 25-36% of the incoming wave energy. The D81 dissipation rate estimates also agree closely with those from a dissipation parameterization proposed by Janssen and Battjes (2007) (JB07) and commonly applied within larger nearshore circulation models. The JB07 formulation, however, requires additional physical parameters (wave height and water depth) that are often sparsely sampled and are difficult to attain from remote sensing alone. The power of the D81 formulation lies in its dependence on surface signatures alone, and with the methods developed here and those proposed for future work, wave energy dissipation rate maps could be produced for any imageable coastline.
- Civil engineering