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Reversing storm hotspots on sandy beaches: Spatial and temporal characteristics

January 1, 2006

Coastal erosion hotspots are defined as sections of coast that exhibit significantly higher rates of erosion than adjacent areas. This paper describes the spatial and temporal characteristics of a recently identified type of coastal erosion hotspot, which forms in response to storms on uninterrupted sandy coasts largely free from human intervention. These are referred to here as reversing storm hotspots because the erosion is reversed by accretion of a similar magnitude to the storm-induced erosion. The accretion occurs within a few days or weeks of fair weather after the storm. Reversing storm hotspots observed here, on two US east coast beaches, have a longshore length averaging 3.86 km, a cross-shore excursion (magnitude of erosion or accretion) averaging 15.4 m, and a time scale of days to weeks associated with individual storm events. These spatial and temporal scales clearly distinguish reversing storm hotspots from previously described forms of longshore variability in erosion, including those attributed to several types of shoreline undulations and hotspots associated with long-term shoreline change.