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Hotspot dune erosion on an intermediate beach

September 8, 2021

A large, low pressure Nor’easter storm and Hurricane Joaquin contributed to multiple weeks of sustained, elevated wave and water level conditions along the southeastern Atlantic coast of the United States in Fall 2015. Sea level anomalies in excess of 1 m and offshore wave heights of up to 4 m were recorded during these storms, as observed at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Field Research Facility in Duck, NC, USA. In response to these energetic oceanographic conditions, there were highly variable morphologic changes to the dune over short spatial scales (fidelity models, which account for feedback effects from subaqueous morphology, are similarly able to predict the locations of maximum hotspot erosion, but are sensitive to beach over-steepening and/or errors in wave runup calculations that can lead to over-prediction of simulated dune erosion. This work highlights that numerous existing tools are capable of identifying the foredune regions at most risk from hotspot erosion, as well as the need for continued research to improve representation of all relevant intra-storm morphodynamic processes.