Extreme waves, overtopping and flooding at sea defences
This thesis describes experiments that were carried out using focused wave groups in the UK Coastal Research Facility (UKCRF). Considerable effort was put into calibrating the UKCRF to determine the relationship between the input signals sent to the paddles and the waves generated in the facility. Focused wave groups of various sizes and phases, based on NewWave theory were generated, and measurements were made of the resulting surface elevation data, water particle kinematics, wave runup and overtopping volumes. NewWave theory models the profile of extreme waves in a Gaussian (random) sea. The thesis describes the first time this model has been applied in the context of coastal wave transformation. A method for the separation of the underlying harmonic structure of a focused wave group is described and results presented. This technique has been used in relatively deep water but is shown to work successfully in the coastal zone until wave overturning. A method has been devised to provide a theoretical Stokes-like expansion of the free and bound waves to model the surface elevation and water particle kinematics of the focused wave groups. Satisfactory agreement is achieved between the theoretical predictions of UKCRF measurements. Suggestions are made for an improved model. The underlying harmonic structure of the focused wave groups is presented as stacked time histories that give insight into the wave transformation process from deep to shallow water. Particular attention is paid to the low frequency wave generated as the wave group interacts with the beach. This is compared to the low frequency wave that is generated by a solitary wave in the UKCRF. Runup and overtopping measurements are in reasonable agreement with predictions based on certain empirical formulae, but not others. These comparisons are useful in identifying those formulae able to predict runup and overtopping of extreme waves in the coastal zone.