Temporal and spatial variability in event scale aeolian transport on Ameland, the Netherlands

Poortinga, A.; Keijsers, J.G.S.; Visser, S.M.; Riksen, M.J.P.M.; Baas, A.C.W.


Coastal dunes are the primary defence protecting the coastline from the destructive forces of the sea in The Netherlands. Aeolian processes are important in this context as they contribute to dune accretion and thus the safety of the coastal hinterland. In this study, we analyze horizontal and vertical variability of event scale aeolian sand transport on a wide beach on the island of Ameland, The Netherlands. Data were obtained from a meteorological station, groundwater monitoring wells and a camera installed on the beach. Fifteen aeolian transport events (two involving onshore winds, seven longshore and six offshore) were measured using a comprehensive grid of 37 customized MWAC traps. The highest sand transport rates and largest variability was found for alongshore events. Surface moisture, governed by groundwater, was found to be an important controlling parameter for aeolian transport rates and vertical flux profiles. Groundwater levels were largely dominated by beach inundation, influencing the groundwater table for a two week period. Variations in vertical flux profiles between traps were larger for wet sand transport events than dry ones. In general, sand transport rates were highest at the foreshore and lowest at the dune toe. Sand transport dynamics are dependent on local conditions such as beach dimensions, beach orientation and also meteorological and surface characteristics. Moderate (high frequency, low magnitude) events are also capable of transporting large amounts of sand. Future studies should include spatially explicit measurements of elevation and surface moisture to obtain a more complete understanding of the complex sand transport dynamics.