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Decoupling processes and scales of shoreline morphodynamics

October 27, 2016

Behavior of coastal systems on time scales ranging from single storm events to years and decades is controlled by both small-scale sediment transport processes and large-scale geologic, oceanographic, and morphologic processes. Improved understanding of coastal behavior at multiple time scales is required for refining models that predict potential erosion hazards and for coastal management planning and decision-making. Here we investigate the primary controls on shoreline response along a geologically-variable barrier island on time scales resolving extreme storms and decadal variations over a period of nearly one century. An empirical orthogonal function analysis is applied to a time series of shoreline positions at Fire Island, NY to identify patterns of shoreline variance along the length of the island. We establish that there are separable patterns of shoreline behavior that represent response to oceanographic forcing as well as patterns that are not explained by this forcing. The dominant shoreline behavior occurs over large length scales in the form of alternating episodes of shoreline retreat and advance, presumably in response to storms cycles. Two secondary responses include long-term response that is correlated to known geologic variations of the island and the other reflects geomorphic patterns with medium length scale. Our study also includes the response to Hurricane Sandy and a period of post-storm recovery. It was expected that the impacts from Hurricane Sandy would disrupt long-term trends and spatial patterns. We found that the response to Sandy at Fire Island is not notable or distinguishable from several other large storms of the prior decade.

Publication Year 2016
Title Decoupling processes and scales of shoreline morphodynamics
DOI 10.1016/j.margeo.2016.08.008
Authors Cheryl J. Hapke, Nathaniel G. Plant, Rachel E. Henderson, William C. Schwab, Timothy R. Nelson
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Marine Geology
Index ID 70177923
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center