Coastal and Shelf Sea Dynamics

Research in this focuses on gaining more fundamental knowledge about interactions between water motion, sediment transport and bottom changes in coastal seas and estuaries. Three main topics are considered: dynamics of the shelf, of the nearshore zone and of estuaries and semi-enclosed seas.
Regarding the shelf, the physics of various types of bedforms are investigated. Tidal sand waves, which may e.g. cause exposure of electricity cables buried in the sea bed, are studied by analysing field data and by simulations with nonlinear numerical models. Sand ridges are modelled to understand their interaction with the decadal evolution of the morphology of the nearshore zone, including the shoreline. For this coupled numerical models have been developed, which are used to understand shoreline undulations, as well as the response of the system to human interventions and climate change.
Our research on the physics of the nearshore zone focuses on morphodynamic pattern formation at weekly to monthly time scales. We use a numerical model of intermediate complexity to study the response of sand bars, rip currents etc. to incoming sea waves of which the characteristics vary in time.
The physics of estuaries and semi-enclosed seas are analysed with idealised models that simulate tides, net currents, salinity and turbidity. Additionally, Lagrangian particle motion in semi-enclosed tidal seas and in the nearshore zone is analysed.
This research theme includes researchers from the the Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, and the Department of Physical Geography, Faculty of Geosciences, of Utrecht University.

More information about the research on coastal and shelf sea dynamics is given on the site of Huib de Swart and the site of the Department of Physical Geography.