Thomas, T., Phillips, M. R., and Williams A. T., 2013. A Centurial Record of Beach Rotation.
Beach rotations are reliant on a bi-directional wave climate and headlands to impede alongshore sediment transport. This manifests itself in localised shoreline retreat or advance but does not lead to long term sediment loss or gain, as beaches often return to initial conditions in response to wave direction shifts and these changes are often seasonal. This paper assesses morphological changes of a headland embayed beach (Tenby, West Wales) over a 180 year period using GIS, cross shore profiles, and wave modelling. Within GIS maps, aerial photographs and direct field measurements identified two significant changes in beach orientation between the periods 1830–1919 and 1919–2009. Analysis of more recent data (1941–2009) showed that a statistically significant (R2 = 64%) negative phase relationship existed between the beach extremities and correlation changes revealed central region rotation. Results were consistent with wave modeling (RCPWave) that showed dominant waves emanate from southwest and cause long term longshore drift from south toward north. Subdominant waves emanating from the southeast cause counter-drift. In the decadal and seasonal term, negative phase relationships indicative of beach rotation were also established. Cross-correlation analysis between beach extremities showed that decadal term rotation occurred at timescales of less than one year. This was verified by seasonal term results, which showed with increased statistical significance that sediment exchange between headlands takes up to two months. Results have implications for coastal zone management and careful examination of these phenomena is required over both seasonal and longer timescales and should be considered in the development of new beach management strategies.