Coastline responses to changing storm patterns Academic Article uri icon


  • Researchers and coastal managers are pondering how accelerated sea-level rise and possibly intensified storms will affect shorelines. These issues are most often investigated in a cross-shore profile framework, fostering the implicit assumption that coastline responses will be approximately uniform in the alongshore direction. However, experiments with a recently developed numerical model of coastline change on a large spatial domain suggest that the shoreline responses to climate change could be highly variable. As storm and wave climates change, large-scale coastline shapes are likely to shift—causing areas of greatly accelerated coastal erosion to alternate with areas of considerable shoreline accretion. On complex-shaped coastlines, including cuspate-cape and spit coastlines, the alongshore variation in shoreline retreat rates could be an order of magnitude higher than the baseline retreat rate expected from sea-level rise alone.

publication date

  • September 2006