Assessing the influence of sea walls on the coastal vulnerability of a pinned, soft-cliff, sandy coastline

Barkwith, A.; Hurst, M.D.; Thomas, C.W.; Ellis, M.A.; Limber, P.W.; Murray, A.B.. 2013 Assessing the influence of sea walls on the coastal vulnerability of a pinned, soft-cliff, sandy coastline. Earth Surface Dynamics, 1. 1127-1149.

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Coastal defences have long been employed to halt or slow coastal erosion. Their impact on local sediment flux and ecology has been studied in detail through field studies and numerical simulations. The non-local impact of a modified sediment flux regime on mesoscale erosion and accretion has received less attention. Morphological changes at this scale due to defended structures can be difficult to quantify or identify with field data. Engineering scale numerical models, often applied to assess the design of modern defences on local coastal erosion, tend not to cover large stretches of coast and are rarely applied to assess the impact of older structures. We extend previous work to explore the influences of sea walls on the evolution and morphological sensitivity of a pinned, soft-cliff, sandy coastline under a changing wave climate. The Holderness coast of East Yorkshire, UK, is used as a case study, represented both as a defended example with major sea walls included and a natural example where no sea defences exist. Using a mesoscale numerical coastal evolution model, stochastic wave climate data are perturbed gradually to assess the sensitivity of the coastal morphology to changing wave climate for both the defended and natural scenarios. Comparative analysis of the simulated output suggests that sea walls in the south of the region have a greater impact on sediment flux due to the increased sediment availability along this part of the coast. Multiple defended structures, including those separated by several kilometres, were found to interact with each other, producing a complex imprint on coastal morphology under a changing wave climate. Although spatially and temporally heterogeneous, sea walls generally slowed coastal recession and accumulated sediment on their up-drift side.

Item Type: Publication - Article
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Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 28 Jan 2014 13:53 +0 (UTC)

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