Investigation of three-dimensional wind flow behaviour over coastal dune morphology under offshore winds using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and ultrasonic anemometry.

Derek Jackson, Meiring Beyers, Kevin Lynch, Andrew Cooper, Andreas Baas, Irene Delgado-Fernandez

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107 Citations (Scopus)


The behaviour of offshore-directed winds over coastal dune and beach morphology wasexamined using a combination of modelling (3-D Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)) and field measurement. Both model simulations and field measurements showed reversal of offshore flows at the back beach and creation of an onshore sediment transport potential. The influence of flow reversals on the beach-dune transport system and foredune growth patterns has previously received little attention. Detailed wind flow measurements were made using an extensive array of mast-mounted, 3-D ultrasonic anemometers (50Hz), arranged parallel to the dominant incident wind direction. Large Eddy Simulation (LES) of the offshore wind flow over the dune was conducted using the open-source CFD tool openFOAM. The computational domain included a terrain model obtained by airborne LiDAR and detailed ground DGPS measurements. The computational grid (~22 million cells) included localised mesh refinement near the complex foredune terrain to capture finer details of the dune morphology that might affect wind flows on the adjacent beach.Measured and simulated wind flow are presented and discussed. The CFD simulations offer new insights into the flow mechanics associated with offshore winds and how the terrain steering of wind flow impacts on the geomorphological behaviour of the dune system.Simulation of 3-D wind flows over complex terrain such as dune systems, presents a valuable new tool for geomorphological research, as it enables new insights into the relationship between the wind field and the underlying topography. The results show that offshore and obliquely offshore winds result in flow reversal and onshore directed winds at distances of up to 20 m from the embryo dune toe. The potential geomorphological significance of the findings are discussed and simple calculations show that incoming offshore and obliquely offshore winds with mean velocities over 13 m s-1 and 7 m s-1, respectively have the potential to create onshore-directed winds at the back beach with mean velocities above 3.3 m s-1.These are above the threshold of movement for dry sand and support previous conclusionsabout the significance of offshore winds in dune and beach budget calculations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1113-1134
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Nov 2011


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