Wave transformation and alongshore sediment transport due to obliquely oriented shoreface-connected ridges
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The inner continental shelf off the western half of the barrier island Fire Island, NY, is characterized by a series of obliquely oriented shoreface-connected ridges. The long-term historic shoreline record shows persistent undulations in shoreline shape at an alongshore scale similar to the alongshore scale of the ridges. This suggests that the ridges affect the wave transformation, alongshore sediment transport and corresponding shoreline change. These processes are investigated by utilizing the SWAN (Simulating WAves Nearshore) model, forced with realistic wave parameters, on a simplified, synthetic bathymetry replicating the scales of the shoreface-connected ridges. Results indicate that the relative magnitude of alongshore variations of modeled waves, alongshore transport, and the corresponding shoreline change are highly correlated with the relative orientation of the incoming waves to the ridges. Alongshore variations in both wave height and direction along the breaker line are much stronger when the predominant wave direction is along the main axis of the ridges rather than perpendicular to the ridge crests. This pattern of wave height variation is further explained by evaluating the directional energy spectrum and using a reverse ray-tracing technique. The gradients of the alongshore sediment transport, which lead to shoreline change, also appear to be stronger for waves with an angle of incidence similar to the ridge orientation. These results help explain the relationship between the oblique shoreface-connected ridges and the corresponding shoreline changes and shed light on the connection between the inner-shelf ridges and persistent shoreline undulations for the Western portion of Fire Island.