Equilibrium shoreline response of a high wave energy beach

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Abstract

[1] Four years of beach elevation surveys at Ocean Beach, San Francisco, California, are used to extend an existing equilibrium shoreline change model, previously calibrated with fine sand and moderate energy waves, to medium sand and higher-energy waves. The shoreline, characterized as the cross-shore location of the mean high water contour, varied seasonally by between 30 and 60 m, depending on the alongshore location. The equilibrium shoreline change model relates the rate of horizontal shoreline displacement to the hourly wave energy E and the wave energy disequilibrium, the difference between E and the equilibrium wave energy that would cause no change in the present shoreline location. Values for the model shoreline response coefficients are tuned to fit the observations in 500 m alongshore segments and averaged over segments where the model has good skill and the estimated effects of neglected alongshore sediment transport are relatively small. Using these representative response coefficients for 0.3 mm sand from Ocean Beach and driving the model with much lower-energy winter waves observed at San Onofre Beach (also 0.3 mm sand) in southern California, qualitatively reproduces the small seasonal shoreline fluctuations at San Onofre. This consistency suggests that the shoreline model response coefficients depend on grain size and may be constant, and thus transportable, between sites with similar grain size and different wave climates. The calibrated model response coefficients predict that for equal fluctuations in wave energy, changes in shoreline location on a medium-grained (0.3 mm) beach are much smaller than on a previously studied fine-grained (0.2 mm) beach.

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