The impact of wind on flow and sediment transport over intertidal flats

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Sediment transport over intertidal flats is driven by a combination of waves, tides, and wind-driven flow. In this study we aimed at identifying and quantifying the interactions between these processes. A five week long dataset consisting of flow velocities, waves, water depths, suspended sediment concentrations, and bed level changes was collected at two locations across a tidal flat in the Wadden Sea (The Netherlands). A momentum balance was evaluated, based on field data, for windy and non-windy conditions. The results show that wind speed and direction have large impacts on the net flow, and that even moderate wind can reverse the tidal flow. A simple analytical tide–wind interaction model shows that the wind-induced reversal can be predicted as a function of tidal flow amplitude and wind forcing. Asymmetries in sediment transport are not only related to the tide–wind interaction, but also to the intratidal asymmetries in sediment concentration. These asymmetries are influenced by wind-induced circulation interacting with the large scale topography. An analysis of the shear stresses induced by waves and currents revealed the relative contributions of local processes (resuspension) and large-scale processes (advection) at different tidal flat elevations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number910
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Marine Science and Engineering
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Intertidal flats
  • Sediment storage
  • Sediment transport
  • Suspended sediment fluxes
  • Tide–wind interaction
  • Wind-driven flow


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