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Ludka, BC, Guza RT, O'Reilly WC.  2018.  Nourishment evolution and impacts at four southern California beaches: a sand volume analysis. Coastal Engineering. 136:96-105.   10.1016/j.coastaleng.2018.02.003   Abstract

Four southern California beaches were nourished with offshore sand placed as subaerial pads several meters thick, ~50 m wide, and spanning between 500 and 1500 m alongshore. Three nourishments constructed with coarser than native sand, placed in 2012 at Imperial, Cardiff and Solana Beaches, elevated subaerial sand volumes for several years even when exposed to the energetic winter waves of the 2015-16 El Niño, followed by a stormy 2016-17 winter. As these relatively resilient pads were overwashed, landward tilted subaerial profiles (accretionary crowns) formed at the eroding front face of the originally flat-topped pads and pooling occurred in the backbeach. At Imperial Beach, nourishment sand helped prevent waves from directly impacting riprap fronting houses, while groundwater flooding behind the pad was observed at a location where the pad was elevated ~1.6 m above the street. As the nourishments retreated, alongshore oriented spits grew downdrift from the eroding face. The alongshore displacement of the subaerial center of mass of the 2012 nourishments is positively correlated with the seasonally varying Sxy (the alongshore radiation stress component). After four years, the net southward drift of the Imperial Beach nourishment contributed to the winter 2016 closure of the Tijuana River mouth and the associated hyper-polluted and anoxic estuary conditions. Nourishment impacts on sand levels on rocky reefs were not unambiguously detectable in the background of natural variability. Over several years, gains or losses in the total sand volume (integrated from the back beach to 8 m depth, over the few km alongshore survey spans) are sometimes comparable to nourishment volumes, suggesting relatively large interannual sediment fluxes across the control volume boundaries. The clearest trend in total volume is at Torrey Pines; during 16 years since the 2001 nourishment, about 300,000 m^3 of sand has been lost. If the trend continues, the thinning veneer of sand will be removed more often from the subaerial winter beach, exposing rocks and cobbles.

Young, AP, Flick RE, Gallien TW, Giddings SN, Guza RT, Harvey M, Lenain L, Ludka BC, Melville WK, O'Reilly WC.  2018.  Southern California coastal response to the 2015-2016 El Niño. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface. 123   10.1029/2018JF004771   Abstract

Widespread erosion associated with energetic waves of the strong 2015–2016 El Niño on the U.S. West Coast has been reported widely. However, Southern California was often sheltered from the northerly approach direction of the offshore waves. The few large swells that reached Southern California were not synchronous with the highest tides. Although west coast‐wide tidal anomalies were relatively large in 2015–2016, in Southern California, total water levels (sum of tides, anomalies, and wave superelevation) were lower than during the 1997–1998 Niño, and comparable to the 2009–2010 Niño. Airborne lidar surveys spanning 300 km of Southern California coast show the beach response varied from considerable erosion to accretion. On average, the shoreline moved landward 10 m, similar to the 2009–2010 El Niño. Some San Diego county beaches were narrower in the 1997–1998 El Niño than in 2015–2016, consistent with the higher erosion potential in 1997–1998. Beach retreat exceeded 80 m at a few locations. However, 27% of the shoreline accreted, often in pocket beaches, or near jetties. While adjacent beaches eroded, estuary mouths accreted slightly, and several estuaries remained or became closed during the study period. Only 12% of cliffs eroded (mostly at the base), and the average cliff face retreat was markedly less than historical values. Only two cliff‐top areas retreated significantly. Although some areas experienced significant change, the potential for coastal erosion and damage in Southern California was reduced compared to the 1997–1998 El Niño, because of low rainfall, a northerly swell approach, and relatively limited total high‐water levels.

Barnard, PL, Hoover D, Hubbard DM, Snyder A, Ludka BC, Kaminsky GM, Ruggiero P, Gallien T, Gabel L, McCandless D, Weiner HM, Cohn N, Anderson DL, Serafin KA.  2017.  Extreme oceanographic forcing and coastal response due to the 2015-2016 El Niño. Nature Communications. 8:14365.   10.1038/ncomms14365   Abstract

The El Niño-Southern Oscillation is the dominant mode of interannual climate variability across the Pacific Ocean basin, with influence on the global climate. The two end members of the cycle, El Niño and La Niña, force anomalous oceanographic conditions and coastal response along the Pacific margin, exposing many heavily populated regions to increased coastal flooding and erosion hazards. However, a quantitative record of coastal impacts is spatially limited and temporally restricted to only the most recent events. Here we report on the oceanographic forcing and coastal response of the 2015–2016 El Niño, one of the strongest of the last 145 years. We show that winter wave energy equalled or exceeded measured historical maxima across the US West Coast, corresponding to anomalously large beach erosion across the region. Shorelines in many areas retreated beyond previously measured landward extremes, particularly along the sediment-starved California coast.

Ludka, BC, Gallien TW, Crosby SC, Guza RT.  2016.  Mid-El Niño erosion at nourished and unnourished Southern California beaches. Geophysical Research Letters. 43(9):4510-4516.   10.1002/2016GL068612   AbstractWebsite

Wave conditions in Southern California during the 2015–2016 El Niño were similar to the 2009–2010 El Niño, previously the most erosive (minimum beach widths and subaerial sand levels) in a 7 year record. As of February 2016, Torrey Pines Beach had eroded slightly below 2009–2010 levels, threatening the shoulder of a major highway. However, Cardiff, Solana, and Imperial Beaches, nourished with imported sand in 2012, were on average 1–2 m more elevated and more than 10 m wider than in 2009–2010. Monthly subaerial sand elevation observations showed that the nourished beaches remained consistently wider than unnourished beaches under similar wave conditions. In contrast to a 2001 nourishment at Torrey Pines built with native sized sand that was removed from the beach face during a single storm, these relatively coarse grained nourishments protected shorelines for several years, and during the significant wave attack of the 2015–2016 El Niño, as of February 2016.

Ludka, BC, Guza RT, O'Reilly WC, Yates ML.  2015.  Field Evidence of Beach Profile Evolution Toward Equilbrium. Journal of Geophysical Research. 120(11):7574–7597.   10.1002/2015JC010893   AbstractWebsite

An equilibrium framework is used to describe the evolution of the cross-shore profile of five beaches (medium grain size sand) in southern California. Elevations were observed quarterly on cross-shore transects extending from the back beach to 8 m depth, for 3-10 years. Transects spaced 100 m in the alongshore direction are alongshore-averaged into nineteen 700-900 m long sections. Consistent with previous observations, changes about the time average profile in many sections are captured by the first mode empirical orthogonal function (EOF). The first EOF poorly describes sections with hard substrate (less than roughly 80% sandy bottom), and also fails near the head of a submarine canyon and adjacent to an inlet. At the 12 well described sections the time-varying amplitude of the first EOF, the beach state A, describes the well known seasonal sand exchange between the shoreline and offshore (roughly between 4-7 m depth). We show that the beach state change rate dA/dt depends on the disequilibrium between the present state A and wave conditions, consistent with the equilibrium concepts of Wright and Short [1984]; Wright et al. [1985]. Empirically determined, optimal model coefficients using the framework of Yates et al. [2009a, 2011] vary between sections, but a single set of globally optimized values performs almost as well. The model implements equilibrium concepts using ad hoc assumptions and empirical parameter values. The similarity with observed profile change at five southern California beaches supports the underlying model equilibrium hypotheses, but for unknown reasons the model fails at Duck, N.C.

Cessi, P, Wolfe CL, Ludka BC.  2010.  Eastern-boundary contribution to the residual and meridional overturning circulations. Journal of Physical Oceanography. 40(9):2075-2090.   10.1175/2010JPO4426.1   AbstractWebsite

A model of the thermocline linearized around a specified stratification and the barotropic linear wind-driven Stommel solution is constructed. The forcings are both mechanical (the surface wind stress) and thermodynamical (the surface buoyancy boundary condition). The effects of diapycnal diffusivity and of eddy fluxes of buoyancy, parameterized in terms of the large-scale buoyancy gradient, are included. The eddy fluxes of buoyancy are especially important near the boundaries where they mediate the transport in and out of the narrow ageostrophic down-/upwelling layers. The dynamics of these narrow layers can be replaced by effective boundary conditions on the geostrophically balanced flow. The effective boundary conditions state that the residual flow normal to the effective coast vanishes. The separate Eulerian and eddy-induced components may be nonzero. This formulation conserves the total mass and the total buoyancy while permitting an exchange between the Eulerian and eddy transport of buoyancy within the down-/upwelling layers. In turn, this exchange allows buoyancy gradients along all solid boundaries, including the eastern one. A special focus is on the buoyancy along the eastern and western walls since east-west buoyancy difference determines the meridional overturning circulation. The inclusion of advection of buoyancy by the barotropic flow allows a meaningful distinction between the meridional and the residual overturning circulations while retaining the simplicity of a linear model. The residual flow in both meridional and zonal directions reveals how the subsurface buoyancy distribution is established and, in particular, how the meridional buoyancy gradient is reversed at depth. In turn, the horizontal buoyancy gradient maintains stacked counterrotating cells in the meridional and residual overturning circulations. Quantitative scaling arguments are given for each of these cells, which show how the buoyancy forcing, the wind stress, and the diapycnal and eddy diffusivities, as well as the other imposed parameters, affect the strength of the overturn.

Hunter, DA, Elmegreen BG, Ludka BC.  2010.  Galex Ultraviolet Imaging of Dwarf Galaxies and Star Formation Rates. The Astronomical Journal. 139(2):447.   10.1088/0004-6256/139/2/447   AbstractWebsite

We present ultraviolet-integrated and azimuthally averaged surface photometric properties of a sample of 44 dwarf irregular (dIm), blue compact dwarf, and Sm galaxies measured from archival near-ultraviolet (NUV) and far-ultraviolet (FUV) images obtained with the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX). We compare the UV to Hα and V-band properties and convert FUV, Hα, and V-band luminosities into star formation rates (SFRs). We also model the star formation history from colors and compare the integrated SFRs and SFR profiles with radius for these methods. In most galaxies, the UV photometry extends beyond Hα in radius, providing a better measure of the star formation activity in the outer disks. The Hα appears to be lacking in the outer disk because of faintness in low-density gas. The FUV and V-band profiles are continuous with radius, although they sometimes have a kink from a double exponential disk. There is no obvious difference in star formation properties between the inner and outer disks. No disk edges have been observed, even to stellar surface densities as low as 0.1 M ☉ pc^(–2) and SFRs as low as 10^(–4) M ☉ yr^(–1) kpc^(–2). Galaxies with low H I to luminosity ratios have relatively low FUV compared to V-band emission in the outer parts, suggesting a cessation of star formation there. Galaxies with relatively high H I apparently have fluctuating star formation with a gigayear timescale.