Coastal Restoration Trust of New Zealand

Coastal Dune Ecosystem Reference Database

Coastal dune mobility over the past century: A global review Journal Paper

Gao, J.; Kennedy, D.M.; Konlechner, T.M.
Journal / Source
Progress in Physical Geography: Earth and Environment
The mobility of coastal dunes is characterised by bio-geomorphological responses related to change in boundary conditions, particularly sediment supply, wind and vegetation cover, as well as human activities. There remains uncertainty regarding the relative importance of these drivers on dune mobility at a global scale. In this study, trends and dominant drivers of coastal dune mobility are synthesised through the literature review focusing on shifts in dune mobility over the last century (1870–2018). In total, 176 individual dunes, with 55 dunes from the Europe-Mediterranean area, 23 from Africa, 30 from North America, 23 from South America, 20 from Oceania and 23 from Asia, are reviewed in this work. The results show that there is a worldwide trend of dune stabilisation, with 93% (164 out of 176) of the reviewed sites showing a loss of bare sand area due to an increase in vegetation cover and urbanisation expansion. Multiple factors have contributed to the stabilisation process, including (a) land-use change such as the change of traditional farming practises, coastal urbanisation and tourism development; (b) dune stabilisation projects; (c) sediment decline caused by the riverine and coastal constructions; and (d) change in climate (i.e. the decrease in windiness, and the increase in temperature and rainfall) and storms. Our results suggest human intervention played a dominant role in altering dune mobility for most dunes during the past century, while climate and storms are also important drivers, especially for dune sites with limited human activities.