Journal Article Three-dimensional transient rip currents: Bathymetric excitation of low-frequency intrinsic variability

Uchiyama, Yusuke  ,  McWilliams, James C.  ,  Akan, Cigdem

122 ( 7 )  , pp.5826 - 5849 , 2017-07 , American Geophysical Union (AGU)
The ROMS-WEC model [Uchiyama et al., 2010] based on an Eulerian wave-averaged vortex-force asymptotic theory of McWilliams et al. (2004) is applied to analyze 3-D transient wave-driven rip currents and associated intrinsic very low-frequency (VLF) variability in the surf zone on a surveyed bathymetry under spatiotemporally uniform offshore incident waves. The 3-D rip currents are substantially depth-dependent due to the vertical recirculation, composed of pairs of counter-rotating longitudinal overturning roll cells that promote surface convergence. The vortex force plays an important role in vorticity budget, preconditioning overall vorticity reduction. These rip currents are intrinsically unstable and contribute about 70% to kinetic energy (KE) as eddy kinetic energy (EKE), consistent with observations. The dominant fluctuation period fits the VLF band, at about 18 min. The current effect on waves (CEW) alters not only the mean rip structure, but also the associated turbulence as the modified cross-shore EKE profile with considerable accentuation in the inner surf zone. Increased alongshore bathymetric variability proportionally intensifies KE and intrinsic EKE, whereas it reduces the VLF period. With a guide of a pseudo 2D model, we reveal that vortex tilting effect due to the horizontal vorticity inherent in the 3-D rip currents promotes collapse of the 3-D eddies through an enhanced forward kinetic energy cascade, leading to short-lived, laterally-stretched 3-D eddies resulting in elongated filaments that decay more quickly than coherent, long-lived, circular 2-D eddies.

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