Storm-Induced Morphology Changes along Barrier Islands and Poststorm Recovery

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Book Chapter

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Barrier-island morphology, Ridge and runnel, Storm impact, Storm recovery

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Barrier islands, or narrow strips of sand islands in the sea, have the distinction of being among the most vulnerable, yet most desirable sites for human habitation. Vulnerabilities of barrier islands include risks associated with sea-level rise, as well as energetic ocean events, such as tsunamis and storms, the latter of which are crucial in reshaping barrier islands. This chapter discusses barrier-island morphology and subenvironments, storm impacts to barrier-island morphology, and short-term, poststorm recovery of barrier islands, focusing particularly on tropical storms. Sallenger (2000) identified four levels of storm impacts to barrier-island morphology. From the weakest to the strongest, they are swash regime, collision regime, overwash regime, and inundation regime. This chapter describes various examples of each impact scale in terms of morphology changes in each subenvironment. In addition, morphology changes caused by seaward-directed flows associated with ebbing storm surge are reviewed. Beach recovery initiates as the storm energy subsides, generally in the morphologic form of ridge and runnel development. Continued beach recovery includes increased elevation of the ridge crest, that is, growth of beach berm, and overwash deposits in the runnel, eventually welding the ridge.

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Storm-Induced Morphology Changes along Barrier Islands and Poststorm Recovery, in J. F. Shroder, J. T. Ellis & D. J. Sherman (Eds.), Coastal and Marine Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Elsevier, p. 271-306