Direct bed shear stress measurements in bore-driven swash

M. P. Barnes, T. O'Donoghue, J. Alsina, T. E. Baldock

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107 Citations (Scopus)


Direct measurements of bed shear in the swash zone are presented. The data were obtained using a shear plate in medium and large-scale laboratory bore-driven swash and cover a wide range of bed roughness. Data were obtained across the full width of the swash zone and are contrasted with data from the inner surf zone. Estimates of the flow velocities through the full swash cycle were obtained through numerical modelling and calibrated against measured velocity data. The measured stresses and calculated flow velocities were subsequently used to back-calculate instantaneous local skin friction coefficients using the quadratic drag law. The data show rapid temporal variation of the bed shear stress through the leading edge of the uprush, which is typically two–four times greater than the backwash shear stresses at corresponding flow velocity. The measurements indicate strong temporal variation in the skin friction coefficient, particularly in the backwash. The general behaviour of the skin friction coefficient with Reynolds number is consistent with classical theory for certain stages of the swash cycle. A spatial variation in skin friction coefficient is also identified, which is greatest across the surf-swash boundary and likely related to variations in local turbulent intensities. Skin friction coefficients during the uprush are approximately twice those in the backwash at corresponding Reynolds number and cross-shore location. It is suggested that this is a result of the no-slip condition at the tip leading to a continually developing leading edge and boundary layer, into which high velocity fluid and momentum are constantly injected from the flow behind and above the tip region. Finally, the measured stress data are used to determine the asymmetry and cross-shore variation in potential sediment transport predicted by three forms of sediment transport formulae.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)853-867
Number of pages15
JournalCoastal Engineering
Issue number8
Early online date8 May 2009
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009


  • bed shear stress
  • shear plate
  • swash zone
  • friction coefficient
  • sediment transport
  • beach morphodynamics
  • boundary layer


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