2019 CSDMS meeting-062

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Dune erosion hotspot caused by offshore wave refraction and dissipation

Christopher Sherwood, US Geological Survey Woods Hole Massachusetts, United States. csherwood@usgs.gov
Alfredo Aretxabaleta, U.S. Geological Survey Woods Hole Massachusetts, United States. aaretxabaleta@usgs.gov
Peter Traykovski, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Woods Hole Massachusetts, United States. ptraykovski@whoi.edu
Christie Hegermiller, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Woods Hole Massachusetts, United States. chegermiller@whoi.edu


Sandwich Town Neck Beach, MA, USA is a 1300-m long barrier spit on the north shore of Cape Cod that has experienced chronic dune erosion during nor’easters. Repeated mapping with drones and photogrammetry shows that dune erosion varies spatially along the beach. We used the wave model SWAN to compare simulated waves with the observed morphological response along the barrier spit. Local refraction and dissipation of wave energy by the complex nearshore bathymetry produces alongshore variations in wave energy, with regions of diverging alongshore wave power corresponding to the regions of rapid erosion. These regions are also where lower beach profiles are steepest, waves break closest to shore, and wave runup is highest. These results suggest that, while erosion rates may be affected by the availability of sediment from up-drift sources, wave patterns play an important, and maybe dominant, role in determining alongshore variations in dune erosion at Sandwich.