Hydrodynamic and sediment transport modeling of New River Inlet (NC) under the interaction of tides and waves
The interactions between waves, tidal currents, and bathymetry near New River Inlet, NC, USA are investigated to understand the effects on the resulting hydrodynamics and sediment transport. A quasi-3-D nearshore community model, NearCoM-TVD, is used in this integrated observational and modeling study. The model is validated with observations of waves and currents at 30 locations, including in a recently dredged navigation channel and a shallower channel, and on the ebb tidal delta, for a range of flow and offshore wave conditions during May 2012. In the channels, model skills for flow velocity and wave height are high. Near the ebb tidal delta, the model reproduces the observed rapid onshore (offshore) decay of wave heights (current velocities). Model results reveal that this sharp transition coincides with the location of the breaker zone over the ebb tidal delta, which is modulated by semidiurnal tides and by wave intensity. The modulation of wave heights is primarily owing to depth changes rather than direct wave-current interaction. The modeled tidally averaged residual flow patterns show that waves play an important role in generating vortices and landward-directed currents near the inlet entrance. Numerical experiments suggest that these flow patterns are associated with the channel-shoal bathymetry near the inlet, similar to the generation of rip currents. Consistent with other inlet studies, model results suggest that tidal currents drive sediment fluxes in the channels, but that sediment fluxes on the ebb tidal delta are driven primarily by waves.