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The Biology of Coastal Sand Dunes$
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M. Anwar Maun

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780198570356

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198570356.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 25 October 2021

Dune systems in relation to rising seas

Dune systems in relation to rising seas

(p.197) Chapter 13 Dune systems in relation to rising seas
The Biology of Coastal Sand Dunes

Anwar Maun

Dianne Fahselt

Oxford University Press

Beaches and associated dunes are constituted of unconsolidated materials, such as sand, and thus are low-strength land forms less robust than rocky cliffs (van der Meulen et al. 1991). It is estimated that 70% of sand-based coastlines in the world are presently subject to erosion (Bird 1985; Wind and Peerbolte 1993). However, natural dune systems are inclined to adjust after stress without permanent damage (Brown and McLachlin 2002), and when stabilized by plant cover they offer a first line of coastal defence against assault from wave action (Wind and Peerbolte 1993; Broadus 1993; De Ronde 1993). Natural self-sustaining dune systems interact with the sea and closely reflect changes in sea levels. At any given time no single sea level characterizes all oceans, that is, the resting position of the ocean surface, or geoid, is not uniformly elevated over the earth. Eustatic sea levels, free of influence from tides, waves and storms, thus vary from place to place as well as over time. Satellite altimetry, which permits more accurate as well as more numerous observations than older tide-gage methods of measuring sea levels, shows that the ocean is actually a spheroid modified by depressions and elevations. For example, in parts of the Indian Ocean sea levels are as much as 70 m lower than the global mean and in the North Atlantic 80 m higher (Carter 1988). Climate is governed by long-term periodic variations in the earth’s orbit that effect changes in solar radiation and, consequently, also in sea levels (Bartlein and Prentice 1989; Woodroffe 2002). As a result, ice ages repeatedly alternate with periods of interglacial warming in which ice masses contract and sea levels increase. Most of the time that has passed since the Cambrian period—approximately 500 million years—sea levels, although fluctuating on several timescales, have been higher than they are today. Because of the difficulties in documenting conditions so far in the distant past estimates of these sea levels vary considerably, but those shown in Fig. 13.1, based on different kinds of evidence, are representative of attempts at reconstruction (personal communication RA Rohde 2008).

Keywords:   climate change, climate variation, genetic diversity, glacier movements, global warming, habitat fragmentation, ice ages, sea level fluctuations, ice field loss, isostatic uplift, jetties, long-shore sediment transportation, meltwater pulses, microbial crusts, mutation rates, sand deposition, sea level rise, seed banks, soil aggregation, stabilizer species

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