Boat wake effects on sediment transport in intertidal waterways
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Boat wake effects on sediment transport in intertidal waterways

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  • Journal Title:
    Continental Shelf Research
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    Boat traffic and resulting wakes are among the major human-mediated stressors on coastal ecosystems. Modulation of sediment transport by wakes and tides in an intertidal waterway with boat traffic is studied here. The hypothesis that boat wakes cause significant increases in sediment transport in intertidal settings is tested. Field observations of tides, currents, boat wakes and turbidity were collected on a transect within the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway in Northeast Florida, USA. Hydrodynamic and sediment processes were evaluated by analyzing this field data set. A daily average of 60 wake events of varying energies were identified in the observations using time-frequency analysis methods. Due to differences in sediment suspension in response to each wake and unpredictable evolution of the bed state, decomposition of the effects of each individual wake on sediment is not possible. Therefore, the sediment dynamics during the periods of boat activity were compared in their entirety with the sediment dynamics during the periods of boat inactivity. Throughout the experiment, all periods of boat activity had consistently greater suspended sediment concentration near the bed compared to their preceding and succeeding periods of boat inactivity. In the first eight days of the experiment where tidal forcing was relatively similar between boat activity and inactivity periods, sediment transport rates were estimated as 0.048 m3/m/hr and 0.043 m3/m/hr during boat activity and inactivity, respectively, indicating a 12% increase in sediment transport due to boat traffic. A larger increase in sediment transport rates during boat activity compared to boat inactivity occurred over the last three days of the experiment. Volumes of sediment transported in low-tide, mid-tide and high-tide during boat activity were greater than their low-tide, mid-tide and high-tide counterparts during boat inactivity. Therefore, the results confirm the earlier mentioned hypothesis.
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    Continental Shelf Research, 222, 104422
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    Accepted Manuscript
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