Dawson, A.G.; Gómez, C.; Ritchie, W.; Batstone, C.; Lawless, M.; Rowan, J.S.; Dawson, S.; Mcilveny, J.; Bates, R., and Muir, D., 2012. Barrier island geomorphology, hydrodynamic modelling, and historical shoreline changes: an example from South Uist and Benbecula, Scottish Outer Hebrides.
A partly quantitative reconstruction is provided of the evolution of Gualan Island, a barrier island located between South Uist and Benbecula in the Scottish Outer Hebrides, using historical maps, aerial photographs, and Lidar (light detection and ranging) data. Geomorphological changes over the last approximately 200 years are described together with quantitative changes in the dimension of the barrier island, including rates of shoreline retreat. A series of digital terrain models (DTMs) provided the boundary conditions for a two-dimensional (2D) ocean circulation tide-surge model simulating water level and wave conditions associated with a highly destructive storm that took place during January 2005. During this storm event, the central part of the barrier island was overtopped by waves. Validating the hydrodynamic model against eye-witness and field evidence obtained after the 2005 storm allowed simulation of a range of potential future breaching scenarios. Thus with the same storm conditions a large barrier breach 500 m wide would result in wave heights rising by 0.8–0.9 m on hitherto sheltered shorelines.