Cheng, J. and Wang, P., 2022. Factors controlling storm-induced morphology changes at an erosional hot spot on a nourished beach, Sand Key barrier island, west-central Florida. Journal of Coastal Research, 38(4), 750–765. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.
Beach nourishment has become the dominant sandy shore protection method over the past 40 years. The performance of nourished beaches and therefore the design of renourishment projects are significantly controlled by the presence of erosional hot spots and storm impacts. Based on 5.5-year bimonthly beach profile surveys, along a nourished beach spanning an erosional hot spot, this study examines the hydrodynamic conditions of extratropical (winter) and tropical (summer) storms that cause significant morphology changes. The sand volume loss above the short-term closure depth averaged along the 1.8-km stretch erosional hot spot was 178 m3/m over the 5.5 years after the nourishment. A large portion of this volume loss was caused by several extratropical storms and Hurricane Irma in 2017, when the high, northerly approaching waves were associated with a depressed water level. The northerly approaching waves induced a large longshore sediment transport gradient along the generally north-south trending coast due to wave refraction over a nearby ebb tidal delta. The energetic Hurricane Irma induced a large negative surge and also transported sediment seaward beyond the short-term closure depth. On the other hand, during the passages of typical tropical storms, the southerly approaching waves superimposed on elevated water levels caused substantial beach volume loss above the mean sea level. The eroded sediment deposited on the nearshore sandbar, resulting in conserved sand volume above the short-term closure depth. Understanding the different beach response to extratropical and tropical storms would benefit beach management, especially under the circumstance of increasing storm activities due to climate change.