Can barrier islands survive sea-level rise? Quantifying the relative role of tidal deltas and overwash deposition

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Jaap H. Nienhuis, Jorge Lorenzo-Trueba


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Barrier island response to sea-level rise depends on their ability to transgress and move sediment onto and behind the barrier, either through flood-tidal delta deposition, or via overwash. Our understanding of these processes over decadal or longer timescales, however, is limited. Here we use a recently developed barrier island model (BRIE) to better understand the interplay between tidal dynamics, overwash fluxes, and sea-level rise on barrier coasts and barrier island stratigraphy. Model results suggest that in micro-tidal environments with large alongshore sediment transport fluxes, tidal inlets are ephemeral and migrate rapidly. These conditions lead to effective deposition of flood-tidal deltas and allow inlets to constitute most of the landward sediment flux. Whether barrier islands can survive sea-level rise depends on the combined landward sediment flux from overwash and flood-tidal delta deposition, likely making barrier islands with artificially stabilized inlets (via jetty construction or maintenance dredging) more vulnerable to sea-level rise.



Civil and Environmental Engineering, Civil Engineering, Earth Sciences, Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Geology, Geomorphology, Oceanography, Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Sedimentology


Sea-level rise, model, barrier island, BRIE, flood-tidal delta, inlet migration, overwash, storm, tidal inlet, transgression


Published: 2019-07-18 17:58

Last Updated: 2019-12-14 07:49

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GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 2.1

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