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Tag: Coastal foredunes
  • Total Water Level Controls on the Trajectory of Dune Toe Retreat

    Abstract: This study examines the trajectory (slope) of coastal foredune toe retreat in response to nine storm events that impacted the Outer Banks, North Carolina, USA. High resolution, three-dimensional, repeat mobile terrestrial lidar observations over a four kilometer stretch of coast were used to assess spatiotemporal beach and dune evolution at the storm timescale. Consistent with existing field observations from other sandy coastlines, an upward toe retreat was observed for most instances of dune retreat in the Outer Banks. However, these new topographic data indicate that the retreat can proceed steeply downward when the maximum total water level (TWL) defined by the 2% runup exceedance level is not high enough, for long enough, to erode the dune face. Non-linear relationships were found between the dune toe retreat trajectory as well as both the magnitude and duration of TWL above the dune toe, where instances of upward- and downward-directed retreat are best differentiated using the 7% runup exceedance level, rather than the commonly used 2% level. This physically justified non-linear relationship is shown to be consistent with observations from other studies, and could be a more effective parameterization for the retreat trajectory than those currently implemented in wave-impact dune erosion models.
  • Spatial Variability of Coastal Foredune Evolution, Part A: Timescales of Months to Years

    Abstract: Coastal foredunes are topographically high features that can reduce vulnerability to storm-related flooding hazards. While the dominant aeolian, hydrodynamic, and ecological processes leading to dune growth and erosion are fairly well-understood, predictive capabilities of spatial variations in dune evolution on management and engineering timescales (days to years) remain relatively poor. In this work, monthly high-resolution terrestrial lidar scans were used to quantify topographic and vegetation changes over a 2.5 year period along a micro-tidal intermediate beach and dune. Three-dimensional topographic changes to the coastal landscape were used to investigate the relative importance of environmental, ecological, and morphological factors in controlling spatial and temporal variability in foredune growth patterns at two 50 m alongshore stretches of coast. Despite being separated by only 700 m in the alongshore, the two sites evolved differently over the study period. The northern dune retreated landward and lost volume, whereas the southern dune prograded and vertically accreted. The largest differences in dune response between the two sections of dunes occurred during the fall storm season, when each of the systems’ geomorphic and ecological properties modulated dune growth patterns. These findings highlight the complex eco-morphodynamic feedback controlling dune dynamics across a range of spatial scales.