A new Lagrangian drift mechanism due to current–bathymetry interactions: applications in coastal cross-shelf transport

Akanksha Gupta (Lead / Corresponding author), Anirban Guha

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We show that in free surface flows, a uniform, streamwise current over small-amplitude wavy bottom topography generates cross-stream drift velocity. This drift mechanism, referred to as the current-bathymetry interaction-induced drift (CBIID), is specifically understood in the context of a simplified nearshore environment consisting of a uniform alongshore current, onshore-propagating surface waves and monochromatic wavy bottom making an oblique angle with the shoreline. The CBIID is found to originate from the steady, non-homogeneous solution of the governing system of equations. Similar to Stokes drift induced by surface waves, CBIID also generates a compensating Eulerian return flow to satisfy the no-flux lateral boundaries, e.g. the shoreline. The CBIID increases with an increase in particle's initial depth, bottom undulation amplitude and the strength of the alongshore current. Additionally, CBIID near the free (bottom) surface increases (decreases) with an increase in bottom undulation's wavelength. Maximum CBIID is obtained for long-wavelength bottom topography that makes an angle of approximately with the shoreline. Unlike Stokes drift, particle excursions due to current-bathymetry interactions might not be small, and hence analytical expressions based on the small-excursion approximation could be inaccurate. We provide an alternative -bounded approximation, which leads to highly accurate expressions for drift velocity and time period of particles especially located near the free surface. Realistic parametric analysis reveals that in some nearshore environments, CBIID's contribution to the net Lagrangian drift can be as important as Stokes drift, implying that CBIID can have major implications in cross-shelf tracer transport.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA15
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Early online date24 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2022


  • hydraulics
  • surface gravity waves
  • topographic effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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