Wave-driven flow over shallow reefs

G. Symonds, K. P. Black, I. R. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

185 Citations (Scopus)


A month of observations of waves and currents over a natural reef are presented which show a strong correlation between offshore rms incident wave height and cross-reef currents at subtidal frequencies. The energy spectrum of the cross-reef currents shows a significant peak at twice the semidiurnal tidal frequency, while the spectrum of sea surface elevation over the reef flat shows no corresponding peak. Furthermore, experimental results reported by Gourlay (1993) show setup over the reef occurs in the absence of a beach, and the cross-reef transport decreases with an increase in the sea surface slope across the reef flat due to an increase in setup at the top of the reef face. Analytic solutions for flow forced by wave breaking over an idealized reef explain the above features of cross-reef flows in the absence of a beach. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2639-2648
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research - Oceans
Issue numberC2
Publication statusPublished - 1995


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