Geo-Marine Letters

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 189–201

Modeling wave–current bottom boundary layers beneath shoaling and breaking waves

  • Chi Zhang
  • Jinhai Zheng
  • Yigang Wang
  • Zeki Demirbilek


The boundary layer characteristics beneath waves transforming on a natural beach are affected by both waves and wave-induced currents, and their predictability is more difficult and challenging than for those observed over a seabed of uniform depth. In this research, a first-order boundary layer model is developed to investigate the characteristics of bottom boundary layers in a wave–current coexisting environment beneath shoaling and breaking waves. The main difference between the present modeling approach and previous methods is in the mathematical formulation for the mean horizontal pressure gradient term in the governing equations for the cross-shore wave-induced currents. This term is obtained from the wave-averaged momentum equation, and its magnitude depends on the balance between the wave excess momentum flux gradient and the hydrostatic pressure gradient due to spatial variations in the wave field of propagating waves and mean water level fluctuations. A turbulence closure scheme is used with a modified low Reynolds number k-ε model. The model was validated with two published experimental datasets for normally incident shoaling and breaking waves over a sloping seabed. For shoaling waves, model results agree well with data for the instantaneous velocity profiles, oscillatory wave amplitudes, and mean velocity profiles. For breaking waves, a good agreement is obtained between model and data for the vertical distribution of mean shear stress. In particular, the model reproduced the local onshore mean flow near the bottom beneath shoaling waves, and the vertically decreasing pattern of mean shear stress beneath breaking waves. These successful demonstrations for wave–current bottom boundary layers are attributed to a novel formulation of the mean pressure gradient incorporated in the present model. The proposed new formulation plays an important role in modeling the boundary layer characteristics beneath shoaling and breaking waves, and ensuring that the present model is applicable to nearshore sediment transport and morphology evolution.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chi Zhang
    • 1
  • Jinhai Zheng
    • 1
  • Yigang Wang
    • 2
  • Zeki Demirbilek
    • 3
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Hydrology-Water Resources and Hydraulic EngineeringHohai UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Coastal Disaster and Defence of Ministry of EducationHohai UniversityNanjingChina
  3. 3.U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Coastal and Hydraulics LaboratoryVicksburgUSA

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