James R. Walker


The primary objective of this study was to ascertain the influence of wave height and breaking on wave refraction over a three-dimensional shoal. The subject wave transformations were studied in an hydraulic model. Wave shoaling, decay in the breaker zone, and phase velocities were analyzed in a base test series over a bottom slope of 1:30. A second test series was conducted over a three-dimensional shoal. Wave patterns were photographed and wave heights and celerities were measured. The measurements were compared with wave refraction patterns and coefficients computed by analytical methods. Wave shoaling observed over the constant 1:30 slope was 25 percent greater than predicted by Airy theory at the breaking point for wave steepness H0/L0=.030 and 50 percent greater than predicted for H0/Lo = •002. Shoaling measurements were compared with other empirical data sets, confirming the inadequacy of commonly used practice using linear wave theory near the breaker zone. The celerity measurements indicated that the non-breaking celerity was given by C = (1+.25 H/d)Ca, where Ca is the Airy celerity. The discussion and results give a basic understanding of wave refraction near the breaker zone, supplementing analytical papers on refraction procedures using finite amplitude wave theories.


finite amplitude; breaking waves; refraction

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