Twenty-first-century projections of shoreline change along inlet-interrupted coastlines.


Sandy coastlines adjacent to tidal inlets are highly dynamic and widespread landforms, where large changes are expected due to climatic and anthropogenic influences. To adequately assess these important changes, both oceanic (e.g., sea-level rise) and terrestrial (e.g., fluvial sediment supply) processes that govern the local sediment budget must be considered. Here, we present novel projections of shoreline change adjacent to 41 tidal inlets around the world, using a probabilistic, reduced complexity, system-based model that considers catchment-estuary-coastal systems in a holistic way. Under the RCP 8.5 scenario, retreat dominates (90% of cases) over the twenty-first century, with projections exceeding 100 m of retreat in two-thirds of cases. However, the remaining systems are projected to accrete under the same scenario, reflecting fluvial influence. This diverse range of response compared to earlier methods implies that erosion hazards at inlet-interrupted coasts have been inadequately characterised to date. The methods used here need to be applied widely to support evidence-based coastal adaptation.






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Publication Info

Bamunawala, Janaka, Roshanka Ranasinghe, Ali Dastgheib, Robert J Nicholls, A Brad Murray, Patrick L Barnard, TAJG Sirisena, Trang Minh Duong, et al. (2021). Twenty-first-century projections of shoreline change along inlet-interrupted coastlines. Scientific reports, 11(1). p. 14038. 10.1038/s41598-021-93221-9 Retrieved from

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A. Brad Murray

Professor of Geomorphology and Coastal Processes

Murray, a geomorphologist, studies how Earth-surface environments are shaped, and how they change over time, especially in response to changing forcing. He has addressed phenomena in desert, artic, alpine, and riverine environments, although most of his recent research focuses on coastal environments. Much of his research addresses couplings between physical and ecological processes, and couplings between natural and human dynamics. Murray approaches natural systems, and human/natural coupled systems, with the perspective and techniques developed in the study of nonlinear dynamics and complex systems, looking for possibly simple, emergent interactions that could explain apparently complicated behaviors. He develops and uses relatively simple, numerical models to test such hypotheses, and uses observations in developing hypotheses and testing models (using strategies and types of model predictions most effective for testing the usefulness of the type of model in question, in specific scientific contexts). Murray’s most recent research falls under three umbrellas, investigating: 1) how changes in the size and shape of river deltas can be driven by couplings between river processes, coastal processes, and sea-level rise, and by couplings between physical and ecological processes; 2) how coastlines (sandy and rocky) are shaped and reshaped over time, including the effects of changing storm climates; 3) how coastal barriers and back-barrier marshes and bays respond to changing rates of sea-level rise and storm impacts. Some of the research under each of these umbrellas addresses couplings between human actions and landscape/ecosystem evolution.

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