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Surf Zone (Hydroform)

Component: Hydroform

Unique Identifier: 708

Hydroform Class Wave
Hydroform Surf Zone

Definition Zone with incipient wave breaks, which are the result of an increase in the steepness of the wave as the water depth decreases. The surf zone is the region extending from the seaward boundary of wave breaking to the limit of wave uprush. The surf zone is the specific subset of the wave hydroform where waves are breaking against a shoreline. This relatively narrow area occurs when waves encounter bottom friction and break, forming a region of high turbulence, mixing, and intense energy. This occurrence affects biota in the water column, as well as bottom and shore substrates and biota. The surf zone is highly variable temporally and spatially in extent, energy characteristics, and physicochemical properties; this variability is due to the tight coupling between the water column and the substrate it impacts. In areas of soft sediments, high turbidity can result. Benthic biota (such as diatom mats) can be mixed into the water column, imparting its photosynthetic parameters to the water column and elevating water-column productivity. Nutrients can also be mixed from disturbed sediments into the water column, elevating concentrations there.