Forces for the Flow and Sediment Transport on Intertidal Shoals

P.L.M. de Vet, Bram van Prooijen, R. Schrijvershof, JJ van der Werf, Tom Ysebaert, MC Schrijver, Zhengbing Wang

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Abstract

Estuarine intertidal areas are shaped by combined astronomical and meteorological forces. This paper reveals the relative importance of tide, surge, wind, and waves for the flow and sediment transport on large intertidal shoals. Results of an intensive field campaign have been used to validate a numerical model of the Roggenplaat intertidal shoal in the Eastern Scheldt Estuary, the Netherlands, in order to identify and quantify the importance of each of the processes over time and space. We show that its main tidal creeks are not the cause for the dominant direction of the net flow on the shoal. The tidal flow over the shoal is steered by the water level differences between the surrounding channels. Also during wind events, the tidal flow (enhanced by surge) is dominant in the creeks. In contrast, wind speeds of order 40 times the typical tidal flow velocity are sufficient to completely alter the flow direction and magnitude on an intertidal shoal. This has significant consequences for the sediment transport patterns. Apart from this wind‐driven flow dominance during these events, the wind also increases the bed shear stress by waves. For the largest intertidal part of the Roggenplaat, only ∼1–10% of the yearly transport results from the 50% least windy tides, even if the shoal is artificially lowered half the tidal range. This dominance of energetic meteorological conditions in the transports matches with field observations, in which the migration of the creeks and high parts of the shoal are in line with the predominant wind direction.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2018

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