Effects of closure depth changes on coastal response to sea level rise: Insights from model experiments in southern Brazil
This study focuses on the impacts of variable shoreface closure depth limits on coastal responses to increases in sea levels along a sandy barrier in southern Brazil. Upper and lower shoreface limits for sediment exchanges are largely regulated by the wave climate and they tend to move offshore as the temporal scale increases. Therefore, because closure depth limits are a source of uncertainty in simulations of coastal response to sea level rise, to elucidate how important changes in these limits are under such conditions, four simulation experiments were performed with variable combinations of upper and lower shoreface closure depth values. Direct methods for closure depth delineation require long term data sets with field surveys, which are rarely available; therefore, indirect approaches are applied widely. To calculate closure depth values here, we apply Hallermeier's equations using two wave data sources: one measured (via wave buoys) and one modeled Wave Watch III and Simulating Waves Nearshore Model (WWIII/SWAN). Evaluation of coastal response under rising sea levels was possible via application of an aggregated coastal modeling approach using the random shoreface translation model (RanSTM). Shoreline retreat distances resulting from each combination of upper (hc) and lower (hi) shoreface closure depth values (cases) in model simulations were compared: Case 1 (hc = 7.4 m; hi = 42.1 m), Case 2 (hc = 7.4 m; hi = 35.7 m), Case 3 (hc = 6.2 m; hi = 35.7 m), and Case 4 (hc = 6.2 m; hi = 42.1 m). Statistical analysis via the Kruskal-Wallis test demonstrated that shoreline retreat was significantly affected (at P < 0.01) by the variations in lower shoreface limit. The recession distance was greater when the lower shoreface limit was deeper. Overall results indicate that the choice of lower shoreface limiting depth is indeed crucial in influencing coastal response to sea level rise, and hence in future shoreline position forecasts. Therefore, these results show the relevance of determining such limits with confidence when modeling coastal response to sea level rise, especially when this rise is being predicted over longer temporal scales.