Laboratory investigation of the Bruun Rule and beach response to sea level rise


Rising sea levels are expected to cause widespread coastal recession over the course of the next century. In this work, new insight into the response of sandy beaches to sea level rise is obtained through a series of compre- hensive experiments using monochromatic and random waves in medium scale laboratory wave flumes. Beach profile development from initially planar profiles, and a 2/3 power law profile, exposed to wave conditions that formed barred or bermed profiles and subsequent profile evolution following rises in water level and the same wave conditions are presented. Experiments assess profile response to a step-change in water level as well as the influence of sediment deposition above the still water level (e.g. overwash). A continuity based profile translation model (PTM) is applied to both idealised and measured shoreface profiles, and is used to predict overwash and deposition volumes above the shoreline. Quantitative agreement with the Bruun Rule (and variants of it) is found for measured shoreline recession for both barred and bermed beach profiles. There is some variability between the profiles at equilibrium at the two different water levels. Under these idealised conditions, deviations between the original Bruun Rule, the modification by Rosati et al. (2013) and the PTM model predictions are of the order of 15% and all these model predictions are within 30% of the observed shoreline recession. Measurements of the recession of individual contour responses, such as the shoreline, may be subject to local profile variability; therefore, a measure of the mean recession of the profile is also obtained by averaging the recession of discrete contours throughout the active profile. The mean recession only requires conservation of volume, not conser- vation of profile shape, to be consistent with the Bruun Rule concept, and is found to be in better agreement with all three model predictions than the recession measured at the shoreline.

Journal of Coastal Engineering, 136