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Oceanographic Considerations for the Management and Protection of Surfing Breaks

Although the physical characteristics of surfing breaks are well described in the literature, there is little specific research on surfing and coastal management. Such research is required because coastal engineering has had significant impacts to surfing breaks, both positive and negative. Strategic planning and environmental impact assessment methods, a central tenet of integrated coastal zone management (ICZM), are recommended by this thesis to maximise surfing amenities. The research reported here identifies key oceanographic considerations required for ICZM around surfing breaks including: surfing wave parameters; surfing break components; relationship between surfer skill, surfing manoeuvre type and wave parameters; wind effects on waves; currents; geomorphic surfing break categorisation; beach-state and morphology; and offshore wave transformations. Key coastal activities that can have impacts to surfing breaks are identified. Environmental data types to consider during coastal studies around surfing breaks are presented and geographic information systems (GIS) are used to manage and interpret such information. To monitor surfing breaks, a shallow water multibeam echo sounding system was utilised and a RTK GPS water level correction and hydrographic GIS methodology developed. Including surfing in coastal management requires coastal engineering solutions that incorporate surfing. As an example, the efficacy of the artificial surfing reef (ASR) at Mount Maunganui, New Zealand, was evaluated. GIS, multibeam echo soundings, oceanographic measurements, photography, and wave modelling were all applied to monitor sea floor morphology around the reef. Results showed that the beach-state has more cellular circulation since the reef was installed, and a groin effect on the offshore bar was caused by the structure within the monitoring period, trapping sediment updrift and eroding sediment downdrift. No identifiable shoreline salient was observed. Landward of the reef, a scour hole ~3 times the surface area of the reef has formed. The current literature on ASRs has primarily focused on reef shape and its role in creating surfing waves. However, this study suggests that impacts to the offshore bar, beach-state, scour hole and surf zone hydrodynamics should all be included in future surfing reef designs. More real world reef studies, including ongoing monitoring of existing surfing reefs are required to validate theoretical concepts in the published literature.
Type of thesis
Scarfe, B. E. (2008). Oceanographic Considerations for the Management and Protection of Surfing Breaks (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2668
The University of Waikato
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