Experiment at Duck, N.C., beach explores nearshore processes

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Abstract

Last year's first northeaster yielded a few surprises about the physics of nearshore oceanographic processes along a well-studied patch of the North Carolina coast. The storm winds and incident waves were typical, but nearshore currents and bathymetric response took an unexpected turn. An immense rip channel cut through the nearshore bar. Previous storm observations at this site had suggested that mean currents and bathymetry become uniform in the alongshore direction, but the rip channel challenged this assumption. Mapping after the storm showed that the bar crest in the vicinity of the rip had migrated up to 100 m seaward over an alongshore distance of 200 m.

Ancillary