FD1924 - Understanding barrier beaches

Theme:Strategy and Policy Development
Project status:Completed
Start date:05/09/2005
End date:04/09/2006
  • Flood and Coastal Defence,
  • Land,
  • Environmental Protection,
  • Coastal Defence,
  • Processes
  • HR Wallingford Ltd


This report scopes the state-of-the-art understanding of barrier beaches. It sets the foundations for improving the science and application of management tools, and for developing sound management guidance. Such guidance will help flood and coastal erosion risk management policy makers and practitioners make better decisions on barrier beach management practice. It should be noted that it does not constitute official government policy or guidance but provides information for understanding the geomorphological, physical and morphodynamic processes influencing barrier beach evolution and management. It will be of particular relevance for coastal managers and researchers engaged in enhancing understanding and management of these dynamic features.


Assemble and publish existing knowledge and operational experience of the performance of barrier beaches, identifying the dominant processes and areas of uncertainty or absence of definitive knowledge. Establish, justify and prioritise a costed framework of field or laboratory or theoretical studies that will fill knowledge gaps so as to support better- informed and more effective management of barrier beaches.



Shingle barriers and ridges provide a natural line of coastal protection and flood defence for many sites. Regular breaching and extensive storm damage has occurred at many sites, but limited scientific guidance is currently available to provide beach managers with operational management tools, to predict the response of these beaches to storm conditions. Some sites are currently the subject of high profile strategic management reviews, or have already incurred high capital or maintenance expenditure costs: significant decisions must currently be made with a limited understanding of the way that these beaches perform under storm attack