The characteristics of wave breaking over a fringing reef are considered using a set of laboratory experiments and the results are used to develop associated predictive models. Various methods are typically used to estimate the characteristics of nearshore wave breaking, mostly based on empirical, analytical and numerical techniques. Deo et al. (2003) used an artificial neural network approach to predict the breaking wave height and breaking depth for waves transforming over a range of simply sloped bottoms. The approach is based on using available representative data to train appropriate neural network models. The Deo et al. (2003) approach is extended here to predict other characteristics of wave breaking, including the type of wave breaking, and the position of breaking over a fringing reef, as well as the associated wave setup, and the rate of dissipation of wave energy, based on observations from a series of laboratory experiments involving monochromatic waves impacting on an idealized reef. Yao et al. (2013) showed that for such geometry, the critical parameter is the ratio of deep-water wave height to the depth of the shallow reef flat downstream of the position of wave breaking, H1/hs, rather than the slope of the reef. H1/hs, and the wave frequency parameter, fH1/g, are provided as inputs to the neural network models of the feed-forward type that are developed to predict the above characteristics of wave breaking. The models are trained using the experimental data. The breaker type classification model has a success rate of over 95%, implying that the neural networks method outperforms previously used criteria for classifying breaker types. The numeric prediction model for the dimensionless position of wave breaking also performs well, with a high degree of correlation between the predicted and actual positions of wave breaking. The performance is higher when only the plunging breaker instances are considered, but lower when only the spilling breaker instances are considered. The corresponding neural network models for wave setup within the surf zone and the difference in energy flux between the incident and broken wave have success rates of approximately 89% and 94% respectively. The method may be extended to provide predictive models for consideration of a range of natural coastal conditions, random waves, and various bottom profiles and complex geometry, based on training and testing of the models using representative field and laboratory observational data, in support of accurate prediction of near-shore wave phenomena.

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