A steady-state spectral wave model, STWAVE, is evaluated as a tool for predicting wave-induced sediment resuspension in lake littoral zones. Steady-state wave height and bed-shear stress estimates are tested against 2 years of high-frequency wave height and turbidity data from six littoral measurement stations in Lake Tahoe. Average wave and sediment resuspension response to a broad range of wind conditions are well captured by the model. Despite steady-state assumptions, the model reproduces patterns in wave height and sediment resuspension under time-varying wind conditions at sites with different wave exposure. Model results are insensitive to the measurement location of wind data input among six offshore meteorological buoys. Uniform and variable wind field assumptions yield similar resuspension predictions. Results representing the steady-state response to spatially uniform wind speed-direction combinations enable output from a single set of model runs to serve as a reasonable static reference for hindcasting and predicting wave resuspension patterns. This obviates the need for repeated model runs, making STWAVE output an efficient tool for exploring long-term spatio-temporal patterns in nearshore wave forcing. Application of this tool is limited by wave height overprediction for short fetches and presumably by the validity of uniform wind field assumptions over very long fetches. Applied successfully at Lake Tahoe, we find that the north and east shores, exposed to the prevailing southwesterly winds, see resuspension conditions upward of 3,000 hr/year, while the south and west shores typically see less than 500. Location-specific resuspension hours can vary by upward of ±200 hr/year due to shifting interannual wind patterns.
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- Lake Tahoe
- sediment resuspension
- wind waves