Journal cover Journal topic
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2017-304
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
15 Sep 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).
The role of the reef-dune system in coastal protection in Puerto Morelos (Mexico)
Gemma L. Franklin1,2, Alec Torres-Freyermuth1,2, Gabriela Medellín1,2,3, María Eugenia Allende-Arandia1,2,3, Bernabé Gómez1, and Christian M. Appendini1,2 1Laboratorio de Ingeniería y Procesos Costeros, Instituto de Ingeniería, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México
2Laboratorio Nacional de Resiliencia Costera, Laboratorios Nacionales CONACYT, México
3CONACYT-Laboratorio de Ingeniería y Procesos Costeros, Instituto de Ingeniería, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Sisal, México
Abstract. Reefs and sand dunes are critical morphological features providing natural coastal protection. Reefs dissipate around 90 % of the incident wave energy through wave breaking, whereas sand dunes provide the final natural barrier against coastal flooding. The storm impact on coastal areas with these features depends on the relative elevation of the extreme water levels with respect to the sand dune morphology. However, despite the importance of the barrier reefs and dunes in coastal protection, poor management practices have degraded these ecosystems, increasing their vulnerability to coastal flooding. The present study aims to investigate the role of the reef-dune system in coastal protection under current climatic conditions at Puerto Morelos, located in the Mexican Caribbean Sea. Firstly, a nonlinear non-hydrostatic numerical model (SWASH) is validated with experimental data from a physical model of a fringing reef. The numerical model predicts both energy transformation and runup statistics as compared with experimental results for two different reef crest geometries conducted in a physical model. Thus, the numerical model is further used to investigate the role of the reef-dune degradation in coastal vulnerability. Wave hindcast information, tidal level, and a measured beach profile of the reef-dune system in Puerto Morelos are employed to predict extreme runup and estimate the storm impact scale for different scenarios. The numerical results show that ecosystem degradation has important implications for coastal protection against storms with return periods of less than 10 years. This highlights the importance of conservation of the system as a mitigation measure to decrease coastal vulnerability and infrastructure losses in coastal areas in the short to medium term.

Citation: Franklin, G. L., Torres-Freyermuth, A., Medellín, G., Allende-Arandia, M. E., Gómez, B., and Appendini, C. M.: The role of the reef-dune system in coastal protection in Puerto Morelos (Mexico), Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2017-304, in review, 2017.
Gemma L. Franklin et al.
Gemma L. Franklin et al.
Gemma L. Franklin et al.

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Short summary
This study looks at the importance of coral reefs and sand dunes in protecting the coast against flooding by storms. Many reefs and dunes are being degraded by human activities, making coastal areas more vulnerable. A computer model is used to look at the effects of the reef and dune degradation on coastal flooding in Puerto Morelos, Mexico. Results show that the conservation of both the reef and dune is important to protect the coast and decrease infrastructure losses.
This study looks at the importance of coral reefs and sand dunes in protecting the coast against...
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