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Cross-shore surfzone tracer dispersion in an alongshore current

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Abstract

[1] Cross-shore surfzone tracer dispersion in a wave driven alongshore current is examined over a range of wave and current conditions with 6 continuous dye releases, each roughly 1–2 hours in duration, at Huntington Beach, California. Fluorescent dye tracer released near the shoreline formed shore parallel plumes that were sampled on repeated cross-shore transects with a jet ski mounted fluorometer. Ensemble averaged cross-shore tracer concentration profiles are generally shoreline attached (maximum at or near the shoreline), with increasing cross-shore widths and decreasing peak values with downstream distance. More than a few 100 m from the source, tracer is often well mixed across the surfzone (i.e., saturated) with decreasing tracer concentrations farther seaward. For each release, cross-shore surfzone absolute diffusivities are estimated using a simple Fickian diffusion solution with a no-flux boundary at the shoreline, and range from 0.5–2.5 m2 s−1. Surfzone diffusivity scalings based on cross-shore bore dispersion, surfzone eddy mixing length, and undertow driven shear dispersion are examined. The mixing-length scaling has correlation r2 = 0.59 and the expected best-fit slope <1, indicating that horizontal rotational motions are important for cross-shore tracer dispersion in the surfzone.

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