Using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to investigate airflow and sand transport on a human-made coastal foredune dominated by offshore wind: Impact of the shape variability.

Antoine Lamy, Thomas A.G. Smyth, Nicolas Robin, Patrick A. Hesp

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Foredunes provide many environmental and ecosystem services including protection from wave erosion and flooding hazards during storm events. While the impact of human interventions on the short-term evolution of coastal dunes is reasonably well understood, less is known about their contemporary influence on current wind and sediment dynamics several decades after implementation. The coastal dunes in Leucate (SE, France) have been anthropogenically constructed and are dominated by offshore wind conditions. Since their construction 20 years ago, a distinct variation in their longshore morphology has developed that is inherited from its original construction. The northern part of the dune has a symmetrical profile with a 28° degree stoss slope, 30° lee slope and a single crest. The southern part is asymmetric, with a gentler stoss slope (12°), 26° lee slope, and a double crest. To explore the potential geomorphic impacts of this distinct difference in morphology, several numerical simulations with varying wind speeds and direction were conducted. We used Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to explore the spatial variations of the near surface wind flow, shear stress and aeolian sediment transport. Results: show that for each scenario, near surface wind speed accelerated toward the dune crest on the windward slope of the dune. The maximum wind speed varied with incident wind direction, the highest speeds occurring when incident wind flow was perpendicular to the dune crest. The double crest in the southern section of the dune affected the wind flow by inducing two consecutive speeds-up zones, with a greater maximum wind speed than on the single crested dune. Wind flow separation was observed where a steep lee slope was present (single crested dune), and only during perpendicular winds. This suggests that the shape of the dune and the direction of the wind are key parameters rather than wind speed. The area affected by reversed separated flow was spatially limited and did not extend beyond the dune toe but was below the threshold for aeolian sediment transport. Elsewhere in the lee of the dune, the wind was only deflected by an order of 15° for the oblique winds (310 and 330°), and less than 10° for the perpendicular wind (290°) on the southern part. In these locations, the shear velocity exceeded the threshold, notably on the southern dune, which coincided with the formation of undulating aeolian deposits in the lee of vegetation on the dune crest. The spatial differences observed in wind flow and aeolian sediment transport processes on this human-made dune were directly inherited from differences in their construction two decades ago. These results demonstrate the importance of the constructed dune profile, due to its potential impact on the long-term evolution of the landscape and the sediment budget of the system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104534
Number of pages14
JournalCoastal Engineering
Early online date16 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 May 2024

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