Wave setup

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In fluid dynamics, wave setup is the increase in mean water level due to the presence of breaking waves. Similarly, wave setdown is a wave-induced decrease of the mean water level before the waves break (during the shoaling process). For short, the whole phenomenon is often denoted as wave setup, including both increase and decrease of mean elevation. This setup is primarily present in and near the coastal surf zone. Besides a spatial variation in the (mean) wave setup, also a variation in time may be present – known as surf beat – causing infragravity wave radiation.

Fluid dynamics Sub-discipline of fluid mechanics

In physics and engineering, fluid dynamics is a subdiscipline of fluid mechanics that describes the flow of fluids—liquids and gases. It has several subdisciplines, including aerodynamics and hydrodynamics. Fluid dynamics has a wide range of applications, including calculating forces and moments on aircraft, determining the mass flow rate of petroleum through pipelines, predicting weather patterns, understanding nebulae in interstellar space and modelling fission weapon detonation,

In mathematics and statistics, the arithmetic mean, or simply the mean or average when the context is clear, is the sum of a collection of numbers divided by the count of numbers in the collection. The collection is often a set of results of an experiment or an observational study, or frequently a set of results from a survey. The term "arithmetic mean" is preferred in some contexts in mathematics and statistics because it helps distinguish it from other means, such as the geometric mean and the harmonic mean.

Water level or gauge height or stage is the elevation of the free surface of a stream, lake or reservoir relative to a specified vertical datum.

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Wave setup can be mathematically modeled by considering the variation in radiation stress ( Longuet-Higgins & Stewart 1962 ). Radiation stress is the tensor of excess horizontal-momentum fluxes due to the presence of the waves.

Radiation stress The depth-integrated excess momentum flux caused by the presence of the surface gravity waves, which is exerted on the mean flow

In fluid dynamics, the radiation stress is the depth-integrated – and thereafter phase-averaged – excess momentum flux caused by the presence of the surface gravity waves, which is exerted on the mean flow. The radiation stresses behave as a second-order tensor.

Tensor geometric object

In mathematics, a tensor is a geometric object that maps in a multi-linear manner geometric vectors, scalars, and other tensors to a resulting tensor. Vectors and scalars which are often used in elementary physics and engineering applications, are considered as the simplest tensors. Vectors from the dual space of the vector space, which supplies the geometric vectors, are also included as tensors. Geometric in this context is chiefly meant to emphasize independence of any selection of a coordinate system.

Momentum conserved physical quantity related to the motion of a body

In Newtonian mechanics, linear momentum, translational momentum, or simply momentum is the product of the mass and velocity of an object. It is a vector quantity, possessing a magnitude and a direction in three-dimensional space. If m is an object's mass and v is the velocity, then the momentum is

In and near the coastal surf zone

As a progressive wave approaches shore and the water depth decreases, the wave height increases due to wave shoaling. As a result, there is additional wave-induced flux of horizontal momentum. The horizontal momentum equations of the mean flow requires this additional wave-induced flux to be balanced: this causes a decrease in the mean water level before the waves break, called a "setdown".

Wave shoaling The effect by which surface waves entering shallower water change in wave height

In fluid dynamics, wave shoaling is the effect by which surface waves entering shallower water change in wave height. It is caused by the fact that the group velocity, which is also the wave-energy transport velocity, changes with water depth. Under stationary conditions, a decrease in transport speed must be compensated by an increase in energy density in order to maintain a constant energy flux. Shoaling waves will also exhibit a reduction in wavelength while the frequency remains constant.

After the waves break, the wave energy flux is no longer constant, but decreasing due to energy dissipation. The radiation stress therefore decreases after the break point, causing a free surface level increase to balance: wave setup. Both of the above descriptions are specifically for beaches with mild bed slope.

Breaking wave A wave that becomes unstable as a consequence of excessive steepness

In fluid dynamics, a breaking wave is a wave whose amplitude reaches a critical level at which some process can suddenly start to occur that causes large amounts of wave energy to be transformed into turbulent kinetic energy. At this point, simple physical models that describe wave dynamics often become invalid, particularly those that assume linear behaviour.

Wave setup is particularly of concern during storm events, when the effects of big waves generated by wind from the storm are able to increase the mean sea level (by wave setup), enhancing the risks of damage to coastal infrastructure.

See also

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Rip current Narrow current of water which moves directly away from the shore, cutting through the lines of breaking waves

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References

Michael Selwyn Longuet-Higgins FRS was a mathematician and oceanographer at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP), Cambridge University, England and Institute for Nonlinear Science, University of California, San Diego, USA. He was the younger brother of H. Christopher Longuet-Higgins.

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