Turbulence based measurements of wave friction factors under irregular waves on a gravel bed

CEL Thompson, JJ Williams, Nicole Metje, LE Coates, A Pacheco

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Very few studies have quantified the wave friction factor, f(w), for coarse sediments at field-scale. To address this shortcoming, high-frequency measurements of turbulence obtained within the boundary layer of irregular waves over gravel in the Delta Flume, have been used to calculate values of f(w) using different evaluation methods. In the field-scale laboratory experiments reported here, three velocimeters were deployed on the seaward side of a 4 m-high, 5 m-wide and 55 m-long gravel barrier subject to a JONSWAP spectrum of waves with significant wave heights ranging from 0.8 m to 1.3 m, and peak periods of 3.0 s to 10 s and offshore water depths ranging from 1.75 m to 3.75 m. The deployment area was essentially flat, with little or no predicted or observed sediment movement under the wave conditions investigated. The turbulent kinetic energy method was found to be the most suitable approach for calculating the bed shear stress, which can be related to f(w). Wave friction factor values under the conditions tested here fell in the range 0.01 and 0.27. Although f(w) predicted by an existing equation agrees well with the mean measured f(w) value, the application of a new predictor for f(w) is recommended for improved parameterisation of skin friction over the range of relative roughness values encountered in this study. This approach combines the wave Reynolds number, wave steepness and relative depth to provide a simple expression to assist assessments of coarse sediment transport by waves for uses within a range of practical engineering applications. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-47
Number of pages9
JournalCoastal Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2012


  • Wave friction factor
  • Gravel
  • Bed shear stress
  • Bed roughness


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