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Geophysical Monograph Series

 

Keywords

  • coastal morphodynamics
  • shoreline change
  • hurricanes
  • power law
  • sediment transport
  • wavelets

Index Terms

  • 4475 Nonlinear Geophysics: Scaling: spatial and temporal
  • 4460 Nonlinear Geophysics: Pattern formation
  • 4217 Oceanography: General: Coastal processes
  • 4546 Oceanography: Physical: Nearshore processes

Article

GEOPHYSICAL MONOGRAPH SERIES, VOL. 196, PP. 127-138, 2012

Large-Scale Patterns in Hurricane-Driven Shoreline Change

Eli D. Lazarus

School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK


Andrew D. Ashton

Department of Geology and Geophysics, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA


A. Brad Murray

Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Nicholas School of the Environment, Center for Nonlinear and Complex Systems, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA


The effects of storm events on cross-shore beach profiles have been the subject of concerted examination by nearshore researchers for decades. Because these investigations typically span relatively short (less than a kilometer) shoreline reaches, alongshore patterns of storm-driven shoreline change at multikilometer scales remain poorly understood. Here we measure shoreline position from seven airborne lidar surveys of coastal topography, spanning 12 years (1996–2008), along a continuous ∼80 km stretch of the northern North Carolina Outer Banks, United States. Two of the lidar surveys were flown in the wakes of Hurricane Bonnie (1998) and Hurricane Floyd (1999), allowing a rare window into storm-related alongshore coastline changes at large scales. In power spectra of shoreline change variance and in calculations of plan view shoreline curvature, we find evidence of transient behaviors at relatively small alongshore scales (less than a kilometer) and an interesting combination of both transient and cumulative shoreline change patterns at larger scales (1–10 km). Large-scale plan view shoreline undulations grow in amplitude during the storm intervals we examined, possibly forced by a large-scale morphodynamic instability. Long-term (decadal) shoreline adjustments, however, trend in the opposite direction, with an overall diffusion or smoothing of shoreline shape at multiple-kilometer scales, probably due to gradients in alongshore sediment transport. Although storms can significantly reshape the coastline across a wide range of scales, those changes do not necessarily accumulate to patterns of long-term change.

Citation: Lazarus, E. D., A. D. Ashton, and A. B. Murray (2012), Large-scale patterns in hurricane-driven shoreline change, in Extreme Events and Natural Hazards: The Complexity Perspective, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 196, edited by A. S. Sharma et al. 127–138, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2011GM001074.

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