Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 30 Issue 03

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Volume 30, No. 3
Pages 120 - 125


HANDS-ON OCEANOGRAPHY • Assessing Cross-Shore and Alongshore Variation in Beach Morphology Due to Wave Climate: Storms to Decades

By Shari L. Gallop , Mitchell D. Harley, Robert W. Brander, Joshua A. Simmons, Kristen D. Splinter, and Ian L. Turner 
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PURPOSE OF ACTIVITY. Long-term observational data sets of beach profile variability and underlying trends that have been measured regularly and uninterrupted for several decades are very rare (Barnard et al., 2012, 2015; Kuriyama et al., 2012; Splinter et al., 2014; Pianca et al., 2015; Turner et al., 2016). Only a few sites around the world have sustained routine decadal-scale monitoring of the coastline, with notable examples that include the US Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility in the United States (http://www.frf.usace.army.mil), the Hazaki Oceanographical Research Station in Japan (http://www.pari.go.jp/unit/​edosy/en/main-facility/2.html), and Narrabeen-Collaroy Beach in Australia (http://www.narrabeen.wrl.unsw.edu.au). These unique data sets are critical for understanding how beaches respond to processes over a range of time scales, including storms that last hours to days, interannual climatic cycles such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and longer-term processes such as mean sea level rise. This type of knowledge is essential for predictive modeling and for making appropriate coastal management and planning decisions. A key skill set for coastal scientists and engineers is the ability to critically analyze, present, and summarize such data, as well as to link changes in the beach profile to forcing conditions. Therefore, the purpose of this activity is to utilize a novel and freely available online resource of beach profile data from Narrabeen-Collaroy Beach in New South Wales, Australia, to assess how the subaerial beach and the shoreline position vary (1) spatially due to alongshore-​variable wave conditions, and (2) over multiple time scales in response to changing wave conditions and climate cycles.


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