Dynamics of Surface Moisture Content on a Macro-tidal Beach

Anne-Lise Clémence Montreuil, Margaret Chen, Evelien Brand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Surface moisture content is a significant factor controlling aeolian sand transport. It is influenced by atmospheric,
marine and sub-surface processes. Although several studies reported direct links in surface moisture content with the
processes responsible for those variations, there is still a lack of understanding of its dynamic on a macro-tidal beach.
This study aims to investigate spatial and temporal dynamics in the surface moisture content of a macro-tidal beach,
and to determine the relative importance of factors controlling these. A field experiment was performed on a
dissipative and non-barred beach at Mariakerke (Belgium) during an aeolian sand transport event in March 2017.
Surface moisture content was measured from the backshore to the tidal zone using a video monitoring system.
Simultaneous measurements of grain size, volumetric moisture content, groundwater level, atmospheric conditions,
wind parameters, water level and topography were carried out. The hourly generated moisture maps indicate a clear
cross-shore gradient of decreasing surface moisture content from the intertidal zone (ranging from 4-18%) to the
backshore (none-8%), while it is more complex in the alongshore dimension. The backshore experienced the most
rapid reduction of moisture content below 4% with a dryness rate of the surficial zone reaching 29% per hour in the
late morning. It progressively continued to dry in the afternoon when sand strips, mobile aeolian bedforms, were well
developed. Changes in moisture content over the beach surface reflect the atmospheric (solar radiation and wind) and
marine (tidal elevation, wave and groundwater level) conditions and internal beach characteristics such as bedforms
produced by aeolian sand transport and topography. Thus the continuous combinations of direct and indirect
interactions between all these factors contribute to the spatial and temporal dynamics of surface moisture content. A
better knowledge of the dynamics of the surface moisture content is a necessary prerequisite for the development of
models and to compute budgets of aeolian sand transport.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-210
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Coastal Research
Volume85
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018

Keywords

  • Argus video system
  • Belgian coast
  • aeolian sand transport
  • beach hydrology
  • sediment size

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