Storms are one of the most important controls on the cycle of erosion and accretion on beaches. Current meters placed in shoreface locations of Saco Bay and Wells Embayment, ME, recorded bottom currents during the winter months of 2000 and 2001, while teams of volunteers profiled the topography of nearby beaches. Coupling offshore meteorological and beach profile data made it possible to determine the response of nine beaches in southern Maine to various oceanographic and meteorological conditions. The beaches selected for profiling ranged from pristine to completely developed and permitted further examination of the role of seawalls on the response of beaches to storms. Current meters documented three unique types of storms: frontal passages, southwest storms, and northeast storms. In general, the current meter results indicate that frontal passages and southwest storms were responsible for bringing sediment towards the shore, while northeast storms resulted in a net movement of sediment away from the beach. During the 1999-2000 winter, there were a greater percentage of frontal passages and southwest storms, while during the 2000-2001 winter, there were more northeast storms. The sediment that was transported landward during the 1999-2000 winter was reworked into the berm along moderately and highly developed beaches during the next summer. A northeast storm on March 5-6, 2001, resulted in currents in excess of 1 m s-1 and wave heights that reached six meters. The storm persisted over 10 high tides and caused coastal flooding and property damage. Topographic profiles made before and after the storm demonstrate that developed beaches experienced a loss of sediment volume during the storm, while sediment was redistributed along the profile on moderately developed and undeveloped beaches. Two months after the storm, the profiles along the developed beaches had not reached their pre-storm elevation. In comparison, the moderately developed and undeveloped beaches reached and exceeded their pre-storm elevation and began to show berm buildup characteristic of the summer months. ?? 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
The effects of storms and storm-generated currents on sand beaches in Southern Maine, USA