Dune erosion during storm surges

A review of the observations, physics and modelling of the collision regime

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Dune erosion during storm surges can lead to excessive damage to the dune system with devastating floods as a potential consequence. A risk assessment of areas protected by dunes can be facilitated by an understanding and description of the physical processes that take place. Field measurements, knowledge of underlying processes and numerical modelling have developed with time, which enabled a more comprehensive description and new predictive techniques. This review concerns dune erosion in the collision regime, and summarises relevant observations, describes underlying processes and explains existing models predicting dune erosion. Observations of dune erosion consist of field observations, laboratory experiments and manipulative field campaigns. The underlying physical processes that contribute to dune erosion are divided into processes that contribute to sediment transport due to hydrodynamic forcing, which occurs in the surf and swash zone, and sediment transport due to avalanching, which occurs in the swash zone, on the dune face and on the dune crest. The existing dune erosion models that are discussed here contain (empirical) equilibrium profile models and process-based models, which can both be a valuable tool for the risk assessment of storm surges. However, model uncertainties still remain, as specific processes are not yet fully understood and described. Examples are the influences of wave obliquity, sediment grain size, and vegetation on the dune face. By improving our knowledge through research and reducing these uncertainties, we can further improve our predictive models. This could eventually lead to more accurate predictions, more complete risk assessments, and sandy coastlines which are more resilient to excessive dune erosion and possible floods.