Understanding Variability in Beach Slope to Improve Forecasts of Storm-induced Water Levels
Abstract:The National Assessment of Hurricane-Induced Coastal Erosion Hazards combines measurements of beach morphology with storm hydrodynamics to produce forecasts of coastal change during storms for the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coastlines of the United States. Wave-induced water levels are estimated using modeled offshore wave height and period and measured beach slope (from dune toe to shoreline) through the empirical parameterization of Stockdon et al. (2006). Spatial and temporal variability in beach slope leads to corresponding variability in predicted wave setup and swash. Seasonal and storm-induced changes in beach slope can lead to differences on the order of a meter in wave runup elevation, making accurate specification of this parameter essential to skillful forecasts of coastal change. Spatial variation in beach slope is accounted for through alongshore averaging, but temporal variability in beach slope is not included in the final computation of the likelihood of coastal change. Additionally, input morphology may be years old and potentially very different than the conditions present during forecast storm.
In order to improve our forecasts of hurricane-induced coastal erosion hazards, the temporal variability of beach slope must be included in the final uncertainty of modeled wave-induced water levels. Frequently collected field measurements of lidar-based beach morphology are examined for study sites in Duck, North Carolina, Treasure Island, Florida, Assateague Island, Virginia, and Dauphin Island, Alabama, with some records extending over a period of 15 years. Understanding the variability of slopes at these sites will help provide estimates of associated water level uncertainty which can then be applied to other areas where lidar observations are infrequent, and improve the overall skill of future forecasts of storm-induced coastal change.
Stockdon, H. F., Holman, R. A., Howd, P. A., and Sallenger Jr, A. H. (2006). Empirical parameterization of setup,swash, and runup. Coastal engineering, 53(7), 573-588.