Wave Controls on Deltaic Shoreline‐Channel Morphodynamics: Insights From a Coupled Model

Weilun Gao, Jaap Nienhuis, William Nardin, Zhengbing Wang, Dongdong Shao, Tao Sun, Baoshan Cui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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It is widely recognized that waves inhibit river mouth progradation and reduce the avulsion
timescale of deltaic channels. Nevertheless, those effects may not apply to downdrift‐deflected channels. In this study, we developed a coupled model to explore the effects of wave climate asymmetry and alongshore sediment bypassing on shoreline‐channel morphodynamics. The shoreline position and channel trajectory are simulated using a “shoreline” module which drives the evolution of the river profile in a “channel” module by updating the position of river mouth boundary, whereas the channel module provides the sediment load to river mouth for the “shoreline” module. The numerical results show that regional alongshore sediment transport driven by an asymmetric wave climate can enhance the progradation of deltaic channels if sediment bypassing of the river mouth is limited, which is different from the common assumption that waves inhibit delta progradation. As such, waves can have a trade‐off effect on river mouth progradation that can further influence riverbed aggradation and channel avulsion. This trade‐off effect of waves is dictated by the net alongshore sediment transport, sediment bypassing at the river mouth, and wave diffusivity. Based on the numerical results, we further propose a dimensionless parameter that includes fluvial and alongshore sediment supply relative to wave diffusivity to predict the progradation and aggradation rates and avulsion timescale of deltaic channels. The improved understanding of progradation, aggradation, and avulsion timescale of deltaic channels has important implications for
engineering and predicting deltaic wetland creation, particularly under changing water and sediment input to deltaic systems.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020WR027298
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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