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Effect of selection and sequencing of representative wave conditions on process-based predictions of equilibrium embayed beach morphology

ABSTRACT

In order to decrease the simulation time of morphodynamic models, often-complex wave climates are reduced to a few representative wave conditions (RWC). When applied to embayed beaches, a test of whether a reduced wave climate is representative or not is to see whether it can recreate the observed equilibrium (long-term averaged) bathymetry of the bay. In this study, the wave climate experienced at Milagro Beach, Tarragona, Spain was discretized into ‘average’ and ‘extreme’ RWCs. Process-based morphodynamic simulations were sequenced and merged based on ‘persistent’ and ‘transient’ forcing conditions, the results of which were used to estimate the equilibrium bathymetry of the bay. Results show that the effect of extreme wave events appeared to have less influence on the equilibrium of the bay compared to average conditions of longer overall duration. Additionally, the persistent seasonal variation of the wave climate produces pronounced beach rotation and tends to accumulate sediment at the extremities of the beach, rather than in the central sections. It is, therefore, important to account for directional variability and persistence in the selection and sequencing of representative wave conditions as is it essential for accurately balancing the effects beach rotation events.