The experiment is be conducted at Sand City, California where the beach is composed of a steep beach face, crescentic bars intercepted by rip channels (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Photograph of experiment site for RIPEX at Sand City, California.  Rip currents are clearly visible owing to quasi-periodic holes (approximately 100 m apart) in the alongshore bar.
The experiment is divided into a Steep Beach experiment funded by ONR and Rip Current Experiment with pending funding from NSF.  The timing for learning whether RIPEX is funded in probably January.  The experiment is planned for the month of April 2001.  Therefore, contingency plans for RIPEX are included in all preparations.

We will take advantage of the 2m spring tide range by installing the fixed array at spring low tide.  This results in the surf zone sweeping past the fixed measurement location over a tidal cycle, so that the entire surf zone and swash is measured over tidal cycles.

Steep Beach Objectives:   Our objectives are to measure wave transformation and set-up/down, breaking wave and current-induced turbulent bottom and surface boundary layers, and sediment flux in the surf zone.  It is hypothesized that the plunging and collapsing/surging wave breaking processes occurring on a steep beach are significantly different than plunging/spilling breaking wave processes previously measured at Duck over a moderately sloping bar. Plunging breakers inject bubbles and turbulence deeper into the water column, sometimes penetrating to the bottom and suspending the sediments. Wave reflection can be significant on steeper beaches, and it is hypothesized that the breaking wave location is modified by reflected waves owing to modulation of the water depth and the kinematics in the breaking wave.  The modulation of the breaker location can then modify the dynamics of the nearshore.

Measurement objectives include utilizing fixed arrays of new high resolution instruments to measure the surface and bottom boundary layers, suspended sediments in 3-dimensions and bottom morphology under breaking waves.  An array of pressure sensors, PUV and ADV systems will measure cross-shore gradients of waves, velocity, set-up and suspended sediments, and an alongshore array will measure shear instabilities of longshore currents and infragravity waves.

Measurements include a cross-shore array of 8 pressure sensors, 2 PUVs, 3 Sontek ADV Hydra systems (3 components of velocity, suspended sediments, waves and bottom elevation) and the BCDV2, and an alongshore lagged array of 5 PUVs (Figures 2 and 4). A fixed central array will be deployed (Figure 3), including vertical arrays of 8 em's and 12 conductivity cells, and a x-y scanning altimeter, a co-located surface piercing wave staff and pressure sensor, along with the new high resolution velocity, sediment and morphology instruments

Additional measurements may include scanned LIDAR from a 10 m tower located in the surf zone, and an upward looking BCDV2 at central array.

RIPEX Objectives: The objective is to comprehensively measure in the field a rip current system. The approach is to expand and leverage on the funded ONR-funded steep beach dynamics experiment (Figure 2). The observations will include an expanded array of current meters and pressure sensors to measure currents, cross and long-shore pressure gradients to resolve wave-induced dynamic forcing, infragravity and shear instabilities of the longshore current, vertical velocity profiles of the rip current, video imaging of the wave and current fields, and rapid surveys of bathymetry and current profiles.  The proposal for RIPEX is available here .

Experiment participants:

Naval Postgraduate School to provide fixed array: Thornton, Stanton, Gallagher, Reniers, Wyland, Stockel, Orzech, Morichon, Cowen, Anderson, students

Ohio State University to measure surface currents using PIV from video images from a blimp: Lippmann

University of Florida to measure vertical velocity profiles of the rip current from a moving water craft: MacMahan and Dean

Experiment Dates:

Installation of video cameras on Beach Hotel and Pumping Station:  Early 2001

Initial beach survey:   Tues 6 March 01, Low tide, 1421PST, -0.34m

Model simulations to define final array configuration: March

Installation of fixed array form beach:  Tues 5 April 01, Low tide, 1421 PST,  -0.34 m

Installation of offshore with divers:  Weds 30 March 01

Commence data taking:  Thurs 7 April 01

Remove fixed array from beach:  Tues 3 May 01, Low tide, 1403 PST, -0.20m

Remove offshore equipment with divers:  Thurs 5 May 01

Climatology for April:

Beach: crescentic bars intercepted by rip channels, beach slope 1:10.

Waves in deep water outside Monterey Bay:

     Hs = 2.2 m (range 1- 6 m)

     T ave = 7.4 sec
     T peak = 12.0 sec


Figure 2. Plan view schematic of proposed array to measure rip currents at Sand City, CA. The bathymetry is based on historical profile data.  The Steep Beach Experiment array already funded by ONR is delineated.

Figure 3.  Vertical array composed of 8 em current meters, 8 conductivity cells, a capacitance wave staff, pressure sensor, structured light with video camera, scanning x-y sonar and BCDV2.


Figure 4.  Cross-shore array of instruments on steep beach (1:10) at Sand City, CA scaled with a typical 14 second breaking wave.  The various tidal datums are shown.