Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Computing, Engineering & Construction

Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. School of Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. William Dally

Second Advisor

Dr. Donald Resio

Third Advisor

Dr. Thobias Sando

Department Chair

Dr. Murat Tiryakioglu

College Dean

Dr. Mark A. Tumeo


A seasonal and long-term analysis of the vertical structure of currents in the nearshore is conducted to determine the role of the wind in driving currents and consequently affecting littoral transport processes. Approximately ten years (January, 2002 – October, 2011) of nearshore current profiles are examined using the data collected with an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) installed off of Spessard Holland North Beach Park located in Melbourne Beach, Florida. Additionally, wind data collected with a directional anemometer from September, 2002, until October, 2008, are used to further characterize the long-term hydrodynamic forcing. With the shoreline oriented nominally 17o west of magnetic north, both the current profiles and the wind vectors have been rendered into longshore and cross-shore components. The water level record from a NOAA tide station located at the Trident Pier at nearby Port Canaveral is utilized in establishing the water depth and conditioning the data for statistical analysis. Monthly mean vertical profiles reveal that during the winter months the surface currents are usually toward the south, and toward the north in the summer. In spring and fall, they are mixed, demonstrating a clear seasonality in both direction and intensity of the longshore current. Subjecting the longshore and cross-shore current data to Empirical Orthogonal Function Analysis reveals that the first spatial Eigenfunction accounts for more than 98% of the variability in the vertical profile of the longshore current, and more than 86% of the variability in the profile of the cross-shore current. However, there is a rotation of the current to the right (clockwise) with the rotation angle increasing and the variance decreasing with depth below the surface. The spiral structure of the water column follows a surface Ekman veering, but for very shallow water. The upper layer of the current is almost aligned with the direction of the wind. Monthly correlations between 2-hour average time series of longshore current and 2-hour average time series of wind speed reveal the seasonal patterns of the wind and longshore current in which the upper layer of the water column is highly correlated with the longshore component of the wind speed for most of the year and slightly less correlated for the lower layer of the water column. Most importantly, on average, wave height (Hmo) is larger when the longshore current is heading to the south (Hmo=0.95 m) than when the current is going to the north (Hmo=0.73 m). Additionally, there is a stronger correlation between southerly directed currents and incident wave energy flux than northerly directed currents and wave energy flux. These results indicate that the net long-term north-to-south sediment transport known to characterize the region is heavily influenced by wind-driven currents.