Quantification of Dune Response over the Course of a 6-Day Nor’Easter, Outer Banks, NC

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Katherine L Brodie1, Nicholas Spore1 and Christy Swann2, (1)USACE-FRF, Kitty Hawk, NC, United States, (2)Texas A & M University, Geography, College Station, TX, United States
The amount and type of foredune morphologic change during a storm event primarily scales with the level of inundation during that event. Specifically, external hydrodynamic forcing (total water level) can be compared with antecedent beach and foredune morphology to predict an impact regime that relates to the type of expected morphologic evolution of the system. For example, when total water levels are above the dune toe, but below the dune crest, the impact regime is classified as “collision” and the expected morphology response is slumping or scarping of the dune face. While the amount of dune retreat scales largely with the duration of wave attack to the dune face, characteristics of the dune other than its crest or toe elevation may also enhance or impede rates of morphologic change. The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy provided a unique opportunity to observe alongshore variations in dune response to a 6-day Nor’Easter (Hs >4 m in 6 m depth), as a variety of dunes were constructed (or not) by individual home owners in preparation for the winter storm season. Daily terrestrial lidar scans were conducted along 20 km of coastline in Duck, NC using Coastal Lidar And Radar Imaging System (CLARIS) during the first dune collision event following Sandy. Foredunes were grouped by their pre-storm form (e.g. vegetated, pushed, scarped, etc) using automated feature extraction tools based on surface curvature and slope, and daily rates of morphologic volume change were calculated. The highest dune retreat rates were focused along a 1.5 km region where cross-shore erosion of recently pushed, un-vegetated dunes reached 2 m/day. Variations in dune response were analyzed in relation to their pre-storm morphology, with care taken to normalize for alongshore variations in hydrodynamic forcing. Ongoing research is focused on identifying specific metrics that can be easily extracted from topographic DEMs to aid in dune retreat predictions.