How storm events contribute to long-term shoreline change over decades to centuries remains an open question in coastal research. Sand and gravel coasts exhibit remarkable resilience to event-driven disturbances, and, in settings where sea level is rising, shorelines retain almost no detailed information about their own past positions. Here, we use a high-frequency, multi-decadal observational record of shoreline position to demonstrate quantitative indications of morphodynamic turbulence - "signal shredding" - in a sandy beach system. We find that, much as in other dynamic sedimentary systems, processes of sediment transport that affect shoreline position at relatively short timescales may obscure or erase evidence of external forcing. This suggests that the physical effects of annual (or intra-annual) forcing events, including major storms, may convey less about the dynamics of long-term shoreline change - and vice versa - than coastal researchers might wish.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth-Surface Processes