Infragravity wave amplification by isolated topography: Field observations and semi-analytical modeling

Zhiling Liao, Shaowu Li, Juan F. Paniagua-Arroyave, Ye Liu, Qingping Zou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


Infragravity waves (IGWs) play a crucial role in nearshore hydrodynamics and are the primary drivers of coastal hazards such as harbor resonance and overtopping over seawalls. Field observations show that during five storm events in Fall 2013, the IGW heights at the landward side were significantly larger than those at the seaward side of an isolated shoal near Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. The concurrent offshore incident waves were energetic with directions nearly perpendicular to the shoal. The maximum wave height-to-depth ratio was below 0.3, indicating no wave breaking. Here, we propose a semi-analytical model in combination with field observations to investigate the shoal-induced increase in the cross-shoal IGW energy flux. The model was proposed based on the theory of spatial evolution of nonlinear energy transfer from primary waves to IGWs over an idealized trapezoidal topography under nonbreaking conditions, and was calibrated using a numerical dataset of 21 test cases generated by the non-hydrostatic numerical wave model Simulating Waves till SHore (SWASH). The predicted increase in the cross-shoal IGW energy fluxes are in reasonable agreement with field observations, with 78% data variability explained by the model. Also, the IGW energy flux increase calculated from the observed IGW height increase was found to coincide with the observed IGW energy flux increase in the cross-shoal direction. The results strongly indicate that the observed amplification of IGWs near Cape Canaveral in Fall 2013 is largely attributed to the topography-induced nonlinear energy transfers from sea-swells to IGWs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103119
JournalApplied Ocean Research
Early online date10 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Cape Canaveral
  • Infragravity waves
  • Long wave
  • Semi-analytical model
  • Shoal
  • Topography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ocean Engineering


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