The temporal and spatial variability of coastal dune erosion in the Polish Baltic coastal zone

Jacek Tylkowski

Abstract The study looked at the temporal and spatial variability of dune erosion in the Polish Baltic coastal zone in the period 1972–2008. The dynamics of coastal dune erosion in the area are presented in relationship to the main hydro-meteorological factors: storm surges and types of atmospheric circulation. The greatest destruction of the coastal dunes in Poland was observed on sandbar sections, where the erosion was over 100,000 m3 per 1 km, causing dune baseline retreat by several tens of meters. The main causes of this considerable coastal erosion are the sudden rise of the sea level and the waves during extreme storm surges, when the loss of dune sediment across the entire Polish Baltic Sea coastal zone can reach about 400,000 m3. These extremely erosive storm surges are particularly generated by cyclonic atmospheric circulation, which accounts for more than 52% of such surges from the north-west, north, and west. It was also found that sea level increases of more than 1 meter (about 602 cm) above the mean sea level (about 500 cm) can result in significant erosion of coastal dunes in Poland (>100,000 m3). However, there is a relationship between the intensity of the dune erosion and sea level. The results of the present study could be applied to studies of Baltic coastal dunes functioning in the lagoon-spit coastline, especially in the stretch from Estonia to Germany.

Keywords • dune erosion • Baltic coast • extreme storms • threshold values

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