Vulnerability of sandy coasts to climate variability
Rights accessOpen Access
The main objective of the VULSACO (VULnerability of SAndy COasts to climate change and anthropic pressure) project was to investigate present day and potential future vulnerability of sandy coasts at the 2030 horizon, i.e. on a time scale related to climate variability. The method, based on a multidisciplinary approach bringing together geologists, geographers, physicists, social psychologists, engineers and stakeholders, was structured around 4 axes: field data analysis; numerical modelling; analysis of governance and stakeholder perceptions; and development of vulnerability indexes. This approach was designed to investigate vulnerability at a local scale and was applied to 4 contrasting beaches located in France: Sète Lido (Mediterranean Sea), Truc Vert and La Tresson beaches (Atlantic Ocean), and Dewulf (English Channel). The results focus on decadal and multi-annual beach trends at the Truc Vert beach site. There is almost no trend in beach volume at Truc Vert beach, although there is a variation in this parameter on a cycle of 2 to 3 yr, with variations related to wave energy and probably to indexes of climate variability. Numerical modelling identified the sensitivity of beach responses to changes in wave height and direction, especially in terms of subtidal morphology and the potential development of shoreline instability. Together with the observed offshore wave angle at the Biscay Buoy, these model results suggest that a potential change in wave angle due to climate variability could significantly modify the bars’ morphology. The combination of data analysis and numerical modelling contributed to the development of vulnerability indexes designed for sandy coasts, which take into account climate-dependant variables such as waves. This allowed the differentiation of the sites in terms of vulnerability to erosion: Sète Lido and Truc Vert beach were the most and least vulnerable sites, respectively. These indexes help in identifying the dominant components of beach vulnerability, and provide potential for the study of how anthropogenic factors affect vulnerability. The study of stakeholder perceptions and decision-making with regard to climate-related risk also highlighted potential anthropogenic effects on beach vulnerability, and identified possible site-specific outcomes.
CitationIdier, D. [et al.]. Vulnerability of sandy coasts to climate variability. "Climate research", 13 Juny 2013, vol. 57, núm. 1, p. 19-44.