Costas, S., Bon de Sousa, L., Kombiadou, K., Ferreira, Ó., Plomaritis, T.A. (2020). Exploring foredune growth capacity in a coarse sandy beach. Geomorphology, 371, 107435, DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2020.107435
Costas, S., Bon de Sousa, L., Kombiadou, K., Ferreira, Ó., Plomaritis, T.A.
Dunes are key elements of coastal landscapes in almost every latitude. They host high levels of biodiversity and provide important benefits to society; e.g. protection against floods and erosion, or recreation. Coastal dune growth is constrained by intrinsic factors, which are critical when managing dune systems or choosing coastal dune restoration as an alternative green solution for coastal protection. Here, the evolution of a beach-dune system, characterized by a reflective coarse sandy beach and low dunes, is explored to identify the favourable and optimal conditions for dune growth in these settings. Dune growth capacity is evaluated by analysing the topographical changes observed along a coastal dune over two different temporal scales (interannual and event scale) and comparing the observations with theoretical approximations of sediment transport potentials. Observations and predictions over interannual scale document that (1) temporal variability in external conditions (wind regime) and spatial variability of estimated wind fetch length, alone, fail to explain alongshore dune growth patterns and (2) optimal conditions for dune growth occur when storms (strong winds) impact the study area, jointly with low runup levels, at zones of shoreline progradation and absence of direct human influence. Conversely, lowest values of dune accumulation are associated with areas where shoreline retreat was documented. Observations from event timescales suggest that sediment transport potential can be reached over zones with no significant signs of beach erosion, if runup levels remain low and the event duration is shorter than the time scale of sand surface depletion within the upper beach.