We describe a simple mathematical model capable of reproducing the major features of sand waves inception and growth. The model is based on a linear stability analysis of the flat configuration of the sea bottom subject to tidal flows and uses a perturbative approach. The basic fluid and sediment conservation equations are employed. We focus on the prediction of the growth rates that sand waves undergo because of both oscillatory and and residual currents. A sensitivity analysis reveals that not all sediment transport formulae are adequate to predict sand wave migration. However, once a suitable sediment transport predictor is found, the model adequately predicts migration rates even for the cases of upstream-propagating sand waves. Finally a comparison of the model performances with available field data is presented.
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