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Morteza Derakhti

Senior Research Scientist/Engineer

Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering; Affiliate Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering





Research Interests

Air-Sea Interaction
Ocean Surface Waves and Turbulence
Marine Renewable Energy
Nearshore Processes
Coastal Hazards
Near-Field Tsunami Dynamics


B.Sc. Civil engineering, University of Tehran, 2006

M.S. Civil Marine Structures, University of Tehran, 2009

M.C.E. Civil Engineering, University of Delaware, 2013

Ph.D. Civil Engineering, University of Delaware, 2016


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Statistics of bubble plumes generated by breaking surface waves

Derakhti, M., J. Thomson, C. Bassett, M. Malila, and J.T. Kirby, "Statistics of bubble plumes generated by breaking surface waves," J. Geophys. Res., 129, doi:10.1029/2023JC019753, 2024.

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17 May 2024

We examine the dependence of the penetration depth and fractional surface area (e.g., whitecap coverage) of bubble plumes generated by breaking surface waves on various wind and wave parameters over a wide range of sea state conditions in the North Pacific Ocean, including storms with sustained winds up to 22 m s-1 and significant wave heights up to 10 m. Our observations include arrays of freely drifting SWIFT buoys together with shipboard systems, which enabled concurrent high-resolution measurements of wind, waves, bubble plumes, and turbulence. We estimate bubble plume penetration depth from echograms extending to depths of more than 30 m in a surface-following reference frame collected by downward-looking echosounders integrated onboard the buoys. Our observations indicate that mean and maximum bubble plume penetration depths exceed 10 and 30 m beneath the surface during high winds, respectively, with plume residence times of many wave periods. They also establish strong correlations between bubble plume depths and wind speeds, spectral wave steepness, and whitecap coverage. Interestingly, we observe a robust linear correlation between plume depths, when scaled by the total significant wave height, and the inverse of wave age. However, scaled plume depths exhibit non-monotonic variations with increasing wind speeds. Additionally, we explore the dependencies of the combined observations on various non-dimensional predictors used for whitecap coverage estimation. This study provides the first field evidence of a direct relation between bubble plume penetration depth and whitecap coverage, suggesting that the volume of bubble plumes could be estimated by remote sensing.

Measurements of nearshore ocean-surface kinematics through coherent arrays of free-drifting buoys

Rainville, E., J. Thomson, M. Moulton, and M. Derakhti, "Measurements of nearshore ocean-surface kinematics through coherent arrays of free-drifting buoys," Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 15, 5135-5151, doi:10.5194/essd-15-5135-2023, 2023.

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27 Nov 2023

Surface gravity wave breaking occurs along coastlines in complex spatial and temporal patterns that significantly impact erosion, scalar transport, and flooding. Numerical models are used to predict wave breaking and associated processes but many lack sufficient evaluation with observations. To fill the need for more nearshore wave measurements, we deployed coherent arrays of small-scale, free-drifting buoys named microSWIFTs. The microSWIFT is a small buoy equipped with a GPS module to measure the buoy's position, horizontal velocities, and an inertial measurement unit (IMU) to directly measure the buoy's rotation rates, accelerations, and heading. Measurements were collected over a 27 d field experiment in October 2021 at the US Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility in Duck, NC. The microSWIFTs were deployed as a series of coherent arrays, meaning they all sampled simultaneously with a common time reference, leading to a rich spatial and temporal dataset during each deployment. Measurements spanned offshore significant wave heights ranging from 0.5 to 3 m and peak wave periods ranging from 5 to 15 s over the entire experiment.

The completed dataset consists of 67 deployment files that contain 971 drift tracks that contain all associated data. We use an attitude and heading reference system (AHRS) 9-degrees-of-freedom Kalman filter to rotate the measured accelerations from the reference frame of the buoy to the Earth reference frame. We then use the corrected accelerations to compute the vertical velocity and sea-surface elevation. We give example evaluations of wave spectral energy density estimates from individual microSWIFTs compared with a nearby acoustic wave and current (AWAC) sensor. A zero-crossing algorithm is applied to each buoy time series of sea-surface elevation to extract realizations of measured surface gravity waves, yielding 116 307 wave realizations throughout the experiment. We also compute significant wave height estimates from the aggregate wave realizations and compare these estimates with the nearby AWAC estimates. An example of spatial variability in cross-shore velocity and vertical acceleration is explored. Wave-breaking events, detected by high-intensity vertical acceleration peaks, are explored, and the cross-shore distribution of all breaking events detected in the experiment is shown. A total of 3419 wave-breaking events were detected across the entire experiment. These data are available at https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.hx3ffbgk0 (Rainville et al., 2023) and will be used to investigate nearshore wave kinematics, transport of buoyant particles, and wave-breaking processes.

A unified breaking onset criterion for surface gravity water waves in arbitrary depth

Derakhti, M., J.T. Kirby, M.L. Banner, S.T. Grilli, and J. Thomson, "A unified breaking onset criterion for surface gravity water waves in arbitrary depth," J. Geophys. Res., 125, doi:10.1029/2019JC015886

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1 Jul 2020

We investigate the validity and robustness of the Barthelemy et al. (2018, https://doi.org/10.1017/jfm.2018.93) wave‐breaking onset prediction framework for surface gravity water waves in arbitrary water depth, including shallow water breaking over varying bathymetry. We show that the Barthelemy et al. (2018) breaking onset criterion, which they validated for deep and intermediate water depths, also segregates breaking crests from nonbreaking crests in shallow water, with subsequent breaking always following the exceedance of their proposed generic breaking threshold. We consider a number of representative wave types, including regular, irregular, solitary, and focused waves, shoaling over idealized bed topographies including an idealized bar geometry and a mildly to steeply sloping planar beach. Our results show that the new breaking onset criterion is capable of detecting single and multiple breaking events in time and space in arbitrary water depth. Further, we show that the new generic criterion provides improved skill for signaling imminent breaking onset, relative to the available kinematic or geometric breaking onset criteria in the literature. In particular, the new criterion is suitable for use in wave‐resolving models that cannot intrinsically detect the onset of wave breaking.

More Publications

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center