Dr. SaMeH S. Ahmed

Civil and Environmental Engineering Department

Standing edge wave


Standing edge wave theory

he standing edge wave theory is based on an interaction, near the shoreline, between the waves that are approaching the shore and waves that have been set up perpendicular to the shoreline called 'edge waves'. The regular arrival of incoming waves in the near shore waters causes the development of waves perpendicular to the direction of the incoming waves; these are termed 'edge waves'. These edge waves become trapped near the shoreline and when two of them come together from opposite directions, a standing edge wave is formed. The movement patterns of these waves are fixed and so can be defined as two regions of interest, the nodal and antinodal points.

The antinodal point is where all the movement takes place as the water rises and falls, creating a series of peaks and troughs. Between these antinodal points are the nodal points where no vertical movement takes place. An incoming wave has an almost uniform height but when it collides with a standing edge wave, this is changed. If it collides with a peak, then the wave height is increased and if it collides with a trough, then its height is decreased. In the diagram on the right, the two waves cancel each other out creating a flat surface however this is a highly simplified version of events. The incoming wave has the same wave period as the edge wave, so the incoming wave changes from a peak to a trough over the same period as it takes the standing wave to change so they keep the same pattern. These are known as synchronous waves and are very uncommon.

The more common standing edge waves are subharmonic and these can have a wave period twice that of the incoming wave. This produces a far more complex system of waves as by the time the incoming wave has completed one cycle from peak to trough, the standing edge waves have done two. So what started as the peak of a standing edge wave within the trough of the incoming wave will change to a trough before the incoming wave has changed so what was initially being given a boost in height now experiences a drop. Essentially what this means is that there are a regularly spaced series of peaks and troughs along the length on the incoming wave that are caused by its interaction with the standing edge waves and it is these that caused the development of beach cusps.

In areas where the wave height has been increased, the wave now has more power and so can erode more and in areas where the wave height has been decreased, the wave now has less power and so will not erode as much. This is what forms the cusps as the areas with high erosion become the embayments of the cusp and the areas with low erosion become the horns.

The problem with the standing edge wave theory is that it would only account for the initial formation of the cusp and not their continued growth afterwards because as the cusp increases in size the amplitude of the edge wave decreases to the point where it is no longer a factor.

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