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Spatial Variation in Coastal Dune Evolution in a High Tidal Range Environment

Iain Fairley, Jose Horrillo-Caraballo, Ian Masters, Harshinie Karunarathna, Dominic E. Reeve
2020 Remote Sensing  
Coastal dunes have global importance as ecological habitats, recreational areas, and vital natural coastal protection. Dunes evolve due to variations in the supply and removal of sediment via both wind and waves, and on stabilization through vegetation colonization and growth. One aspect of dune evolution that is poorly understood is the longshore variation in dune response to morphodynamic forcing, which can occur over small spatial scales. In this paper, a fixed wing unmanned aerial vehicle
more » ... ed aerial vehicle (UAV), is used to measure the longshore variation in evolution of a dune system in a megatidal environment. Dune sections to the east and west of the study site are prograding whereas the central portion is static or eroding. The measured variation in dune response is compared to mesoscale intertidal bar migration and short-term measurements of longshore variation in wave characteristics during two storms. Intertidal sand bar migration is measured using satellite imagery: crescentic intertidal bars are present in front of the accreting portion of the beach to the west and migrate onshore at a rate of 0.1–0.2 m/day; episodically the eastern end of the bar detaches from the main bar and migrates eastward to attach near the eastern end of the study area; bypassing the central eroding section. Statistically significant longshore variation in intertidal wave heights were measured using beachface mounted pressure transducers: the largest significant wave heights are found in front of the dune section suffering erosion. Spectral differences were noted with more narrow-banded spectra in this area but differences are not statistically significant. These observations demonstrate the importance of three-dimensionality in intertidal beach morphology on longshore variation in dune evolution; both through longshore variation in onshore sediment supply and through causing longshore variation in near-dune significant wave heights.
doi:10.3390/rs12223689 fatcat:4hzannxnzjfcjgfmuvhxebywau