Rip-current pulses tied to Lagrangian coherent structures

A. J.H.M. Reniers, J. H. MacMahan, F. J. Beron-Vera, M. J. Olascoaga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


The trapping and ejection of surfzone floating material is examined by unveiling Lagrangian Coherent Structures (LCSs) hidden in the pulsating rip-current surface velocity field produced by a three-dimensional numerical model resolving wave-group induced Very Low Frequency motions (VLFs). LCSs explain the typically observed patchiness of flotsam within the surf zone and the streaky distribution outside of the surf zone. The ejection of surfzone material occurs when filament-like LCSs separate form the main ripcurrent circulation corresponding to a situation where eddies temporarily extend the rip current beyond the surf zone and subsequently detach. The LCSs support the idea that VLFs form the dominant exchange mechanism of surfzone floating material with the inner shelf.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL05605
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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