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Coastal Hazards

   This book covers the gamut of coastal hazards that result from short-term low-frequency events and have high-magnitude and far-reaching impacts on coastal zones the world over. Much of the world's population now lives in low-lying coastal zones that are inherently vulnerable to natural hazards such as flooding from hurricanes, tropical storms and northeastern storm surges; shoreline (beach and dune) erosion; cliff and bluff failures; and saltwater intrusion in coastal aquifers used for drinking water supplies. In addition to the usual range of hydrometeorological disasters in coastal zones, this book covers tsunami impacts and warning systems as well as global perspectives of sea-level rise impacts and human perceptions of potential vulnerabilities resulting from rip currents that cause many drownings each year on beaches. Today, the use of numerical models that help predict vulnerabilities and provide a basis for shore protection measures is important in modern scientific and engineering systems. Final considerations focus on human actions in the form of the urbanization and industrialization of the coast, shore protection measures, and indicate how environmental degradation around coastal conurbations exacerbates the potential for unwanted impacts. Strategies for environmental management in coastal zones, from low-lying wetlands to high cliffs and rocky promontories, are highlighted as a means of living in harmony with Nature and not trying to conquer it.  


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Ency of Coastal Science Front Cover-995

Hong Kong's Waterfront

Photographed by Erik Van Wellen 

van Wellen Hong Kongs Waterfront Coastal Photograph

   Hong Kong's Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) on the Kowloon peninsula is the result of decades of land reclamation which saw the area transform from a collection of small villages to a major hub on the map with a population density of over 40,000/km2. As of 1888, the Star Ferry with its jetty left in the picture offered regular transport between Hong Kong island and Tsim Sha Tsui, contributing to the commercial development of the area. In addition, the Kowloon–Canton Railway commenced service there in 1910. Kowloon Station in Tsim Sha Tsui was built on the new southern reclamation from 1913 to 1915. The whole station and rails were later demolished except for the landmark clock tower that can be seen in the center of the picture just behind the promenade. Various museums and cultural venues such as the Hong Kong Cultural Centre just right of the Clock Tower were later added to the mix. Today, as a result of this insatiable development, TST has become a major coastal tourist hub in metropolitan Hong Kong, with many high-end shops and restaurants that cater to tourists both domestic and foreign. (Photograph taken in August 2016 by Erik Van Wellen, DEME Group, Zwijndrecht, Belgium.)


Cat Island Mississippi, U.S.A.

Photographed by Bill Funderburk

Funderburk Cat Island Coastal Photo

   Interior swale of the slowly-subsiding Cat Island, Mississippi. Located off the eastern fringe of the subsiding Mississippi delta complex, this slowly-sinking siliciclastic island is the western extent of the Mississippi-Alabama barrier chain. The Cat Island progradational ridge complex is comprised of several exquisite, densely vegetated, strandplain generations welded together throughout the early-late Holocene. This photo displays one of several tidally influenced, medium salinity (10-15 g L ~1), east-west trending, dune-swale systems. It depicts the complexity of barrier island ecology, sharp ecotones and zonation, as well as the importance of threshold elevation. In the foreground of the photo, we see the calm interior waters and quick transition from saline tolerant, low-marsh (Spartina alterniflora), black needle rush (Juncus roemerianus), and high marsh (Spartina patens), to the less saline tolerant woody stemmed vegetation consisting of baccharis (Baccharis halimifolia), wax myrtle (Morella cerifera), yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria), slash pine (Pinus elliottii var. elliottii), and sand live oak (Quercus geminata). The century old climax community stands of sand live oak are located on the highest ridges of the most central portions of the island and theoretically will eventually out-compete and replace the slash pine. The forested portion of the island is a nesting home to a diverse population of migratory and non-migratory birds such as snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus), least terns (Sternula antillarum), great blue heron (Ardea herodias), and osprey (Pandion haliaetus). (Photograph was taken on September 10, 2014, by William (Bill) Funderburk, University of Southern Mississippi, Gulf Coast Geospatial Center, Long Beach, Mississippi, USA.)


Delfland Coast, The Netherlands

Photographed by Frank van der Meulen

van der Meulen North Sea Coast Coastal Photo

   This picture shows an interesting geomorphologic landscape feature. It is the result of the interplay between wind, sand and vegetation after a few stormy days in August 2014. Prevailing winds from the North Sea (left) have blown huge amounts of sand from the beach. This sand was trapped by a narrow line of Marram grass (left), even so much that the grass itself is almost buried. About 50-75 cm of sand was accumulated in a few days. In the lee-side behind these grasses, a kind of cuesta-shaped sand body is formed. The windward slope is gentle and rising, the leeward slope is steep (ca 60°) and caused by the gravity fall of dry sand grains (particle size is about 250-300 μ). This sand body is about 5-10 m wide and several 100 m in length. It follows the Marram that was planted here along the beach in long rows.

   Marram is noted for its ability to trap sand. It is used all over the world to trap sand and build up and re-enforce dunes in a natural way. Re-enforced dunes, for example, afford better protection against coastal erosion and flooding. Why does Marram prefer sand accumulation? The fresh dune sand is exploited by new tapering roots of Marram for nutrients. Older, lower, sand layers in the fore dunes are infested by root-feeding nematodes and pathogenic microbes. They decrease the nutrient and water uptake capacity of the Marram roots. Plant species that naturally succeed Marram grass, such as Fescue and Sand sedge, are tolerant of the pathogens of Marram. However, in due time they also develop such soil-borne pathogens. This ecologic chain of plant-soil feedback interactions and consequences for succession in the fore dunes was demonstrated in The Netherlands in the 1980s and 1990s by Van der Putten (Oecologia, 1988 Nature, 1993). It stimulated new developments in ecologic theory.


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