Profile response of a lacustrine multiple barred nearshore to a sequence of storm events

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Canonical correlation analysis, EOF analysis, morphological feedback, Shoreface morphodynamics, Threshold

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Profile change in a lacustrine multiple-barred nearshore was investigated over the ice-free season of 2001/2002 at Burley Beach on the southeastern shore of Lake Huron in order to identify the feedback mechanisms between the pre-existing morphology and the wave forcing and the consequence of those feedbacks to the behaviour of the nearshore environment. The characteristics of the offshore wave field were monitored using a Falmouth Scientific combined 3D-ACM wave recorder and pressure transducer. Supplemental wave data were downloaded from a 3-m discus buoy operated by the National Data Buoy Center, ∼75 km to the NW of the study site. The three nearshore bars were in a quasi-equilibrium state through a large part of the ice-free season, with dramatic changes occurring during relatively moderate storm events that followed much larger storms in late October. A comparison of the incident wave field with changes in the nearshore profile through canonical correlation analysis indicates that the morphology responds to the distribution of the significant, root-mean-square (rms) and average wave heights between surveys. The threshold between bar decay and onshore bar migration and growth is associated with the onset of breaking of the rms wave at the bar crest (Hrms hcr -1 ≈0.3-0.4). The threshold between onshore and offshore migration is associated with the onset of breaking of the average wave at the bar crest (Havg hcr -1 ≈0.3-0.4), coincident with complete dissipation of the significant wave over the lakeward slope of the bar (Hs hcr -1 >0.6). Inshore wave data collected during an instrumented study at the same site revealed that the middle and inner bars remained at the threshold of onshore and offshore migration over a wide range of offshore significant wave heights (0.8 to 2.4 m) prior to the October storms. This self-organised equilibrium is a result of changes to the incident wave distribution through breaking on the outer bar. It is concluded that the prediction of bar response requires an understanding of the feedback between the bar and the local wave distribution in addition to an understanding of the feedback associated with the profile as a whole. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.