A 17-year time series of near-daily sand thickness measurements at a single intertidal location was compared with 5. years of semi-annual 3-dimensional beach surveys at the same beach, and at two other beaches within the same littoral cell. The daily single point measurements correlated extremely well with the mean beach elevation and shoreline position of ten high-spatial resolution beach surveys. Correlations were statistically significant at all spatial scales, even for beach surveys 10s of kilometers downcoast, and therefore variability at the single point monitoring site was representative of regional coastal behavior, allowing us to examine nearly two decades of continuous coastal evolution. The annual cycle of beach oscillations dominated the signal, typical of this region, with additional, less intense spectral peaks associated with seasonal wave energy fluctuations (~. 45 to 90. days), as well as full lunar (~. 29. days) and semi-lunar (~. 13. days; spring-neap cycle) tidal cycles. Sand thickness variability was statistically linked to wave energy with a 2. month peak lag, as well as the average of the previous 7-8. months of wave energy. Longer term anomalies in sand thickness were also apparent on time scales up to 15. months. Our analyses suggest that spatially-limited morphological data sets can be extremely valuable (with robust validation) for understanding the details of beach response to wave energy over timescales that are not resolved by typical survey intervals, as well as the regional behavior of coastal systems. ?? 2011.
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Beach response dynamics of a littoral cell using a 17-year single-point time series of sand thickness