Spectral quantification of nonlinear behaviour of the nearshore seabed and correlations with potential forcings at Duck, N.C., U.S.A

PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e39196. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039196. Epub 2012 Jun 26.


Local bathymetric, quasi-periodic patterns of oscillation are identified from 26 years of monthly profile surveys taken at two shore-perpendicular transects at Duck, North Carolina, USA. The data cover both the swash and surf zones. Singular Spectrum Analysis (SSA) and Multi-channel Singular Spectrum analysis (MSSA) methods are applied, on the shoreface, to three potential forcings: the monthly wave heights, the monthly mean water levels and the large scale atmospheric index known as the North Atlantic Oscillation. The patterns within these forcings are compared to the local bathymetric patterns; it is found that the patterns extracted using SSA and MSSA agree well with previous patterns identified using wavelets and confirm the highly non-stationary behaviour of beach levels at Duck. This is followed by analysis of potential correlations between the local bathymetry (at the two transects) and hydrodynamic and atmospheric patterns. The study is then extended to all measured bathymetric profiles, covering an area of 1100 m (alongshore) by 440 m (cross-shore). MSSA showed no collective inter-annual patterns of oscillations present in the bathymetry and the three potential forcings. Annual and semi-annual cycles within the bathymetry are found to be strongly correlated with the monthly wave height, in agreement with the SSA findings. Other collective intra-annual cycles besides the semi-annual were identified; they were all correlated with the North Atlantic Oscillation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Seasons
  • United States