US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Long, J. W., A. T. M. de Bakker, and N. G. Plant (2014), Scaling coastal dune elevation changes across storm-impact regimes, Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, 2899–2906, doi:10.1002/2014GL059616


This article is a U.S. government work, and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


Extreme storms drive change in coastal areas, including destruction of dune systems that protect coastal populations. Data from four extreme storms impacting four geomorphically diverse barrier islands are used to quantify dune elevation change. This change is compared to storm characteristics to identify variability in dune response, improve understanding of morphological interactions, and provide estimates of scaling parameters applicable for future prediction. Locations where total water levels did not exceed the dune crest experienced elevation change of less than 10%. Regions where wave-induced water levels exceeded the dune crest exhibited a positive linear relationship between the height of water over the dune and the dune elevation change. In contrast, a negative relationship was observed when surge exceeded the dune crest. Results indicate that maximum dune elevation, and therefore future vulnerability, may be more impacted from lower total water levels where waves drive sediment over the dune rather than surge-dominated flooding events.