Coastal foredunes are topographically high features that can reduce vulnerability to storm-related flooding hazards. While the dominant aeolian, hydrodynamic, and ecological processes leading to dune growth and erosion are fairly well-understood, predictive capabilities of spatial variations in dune evolution on management and engineering timescales (days to years) remain relatively poor. In this work, monthly high-resolution terrestrial lidar scans were used to quantify topographic and vegetation changes over a 2.5 year period along a micro-tidal intermediate beach and dune. Three-dimensional topographic changes to the coastal landscape were used to investigate the relative importance of environmental, ecological, and morphological factors in controlling spatial and temporal variability in foredune growth patterns at two 50 m alongshore stretches of coast. Despite being separated by only 700 m in the alongshore, the two sites evolved differently over the study period. The northern dune retreated landward and lost volume, whereas the southern dune prograded and vertically accreted. At the start of and throughout the study, the erosive site had steeper foredune faces with less overall vegetation coverage, and dune growth varied spatially and temporally within the site. Deposition occurred mainly at or behind the vegetated dune crest and primarily during periods with strong, oblique winds (>∼45
from shore normal). Minimal deposition was observed on the mostly bare-sand dune face, except where patchy vegetation was present. In contrast, the response of the accretive site was more spatially uniform, with growth focused on the heavily vegetated foredune face. The largest differences in dune response between the two sections of dunes occurred during the fall storm season, when each of the systems’ geomorphic and ecological properties modulated dune growth patterns. These findings highlight the complex eco-morphodynamic feedback controlling dune dynamics across a range of spatial scales.
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