Sensitivity of Tidal Bar Wavelength to Channel Width

T.M. Hepkema, H.E. de Swart, H.M. Schuttelaars

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Tidal bars are repetitive estuarine bedforms with heights of several meters and wavelengths in the order 1–15 km. Understanding their formation and sensitivity to changes in channel characteristics is important as they hamper marine traffic and play a crucial role in the local ecosystem. Recent observations suggest that the local width of the channel is dominant in determining the tidal bar wavelength. However, theoretical studies could not reproduce the sensitivity of the tidal bar wavelength to channel width. This discrepancy between theory and observations suggests that a mechanism is missing. In this study, one of the theoretical models is extended and results in tidal bar wavelengths, lateral mode numbers, and growth rates that agree fairly well with those of natural tidal bars, including the wavelengths dependency on estuary width. An important extension of the model concerns the bed slope induced diffusive suspended load transport of sediments. With this, it is explained why previously, the modelled tidal bar wavelengths depend only weakly on estuary width and why in the extended model it does. This has, from a modelling point of view, general implications for morphological models using a total load sediment transport formulation with a so-called bed slope parameter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2417-2436
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • bed slope effect
  • horizontal eddy diffusivity
  • linear stability analysis
  • morphodynamics
  • tidal bars


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