The future of large-scale coastline evolution will be strongly coupled to human manipulations designed to prevent erosion. We explore the consequences of this coupling using a numerical model for large-scale coastline evolution to compare the long-term, non-local effects of two generalized classes of shoreline stabilization: 1) beach nourishment (the addition of dredged sand to an eroding beach), and 2) hard-structures (e.g., seawalls, groynes, etc.) which fix the position of the shoreline without adding sand. In centurial model experiments where localized stabilization is maintained in the context of changing climate forcing, both forms of stabilization are found to significantly alter patterns of erosion and accretion at distances up to tens of kilometers. On a cuspate-cape coastline similar to the North and South Carolina coast, USA, with stabilization applied to the eroding updrift flank of a single cape, perturbations to coastline evolution are qualitatively similar within ∼20 km for each stabilization scenario, though they differ in magnitude both updrift and downdrift of the stabilized shoreline. The “human” signal in coastline change can extend as far as a neighboring cape (approximately 100 km away), but these long-range effects differ for each scenario. Nourishment resulted in seaward growth of the stabilized cape, increasing the extent that it blocked sediment flux in downdrift regions of the coast through wave shadowing. When stabilized with a hard structure the cape's initial position remain fixed, decreasing wave shadowing.
Geophysical Research Letters
- Pub Date:
- October 2012
- Computational Geophysics: Modeling (1952;
- Hydrology: Human impacts (4323);
- Oceanography: General: Coastal processes;
- Oceanography: Physical: Nearshore processes