Mann, Thomas ORCID: and Westphal, Hildegard ORCID: (2016) Multi-decadal shoreline changes on Takú Atoll, Papua New Guinea: Observational evidence of early reef island recovery after the impact of storm waves. Geomorphology, 257 . pp. 75-84. DOI

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Hurricanes, tropical cyclones and other high-magnitude events are important steering mechanisms in the geomorphic development of coral reef islands. Sandy reef islands located outside the storm belts are strongly sensitive to the impact of occasional high-magnitude events and show abrupt, commonly erosive geomorphic change in response to such events. Based on the interpretation of remote sensing data, it is well known that the process of landform recovery might take several decades or even longer. However, despite the increasing amount of scientific attention towards short- and long-term island dynamics, the lack of data and models often prevent a robust analysis of the timing and nature of recovery initiation. Here we show how natural island recovery starts immediately after the impact of a high-magnitude event. We analyze multi-temporal shoreline changes on Takú Atoll, Papua New Guinea and combine our findings with a unique set of published field observations (Smithers and Hoeke, 2014). Trends of shoreline change since 1943 and changes in planform island area indicate a long-term accretionary mode for most islands. Apparent shoreline instability is detected for the last decade of analysis, however this can be explained by the impact of storm waves in December 2008 that (temporarily?) masked the long-term trend. The transition from negative to positive rates of change in the aftermath of this storm event is indicative of inherent negative feedback processes that counteract short-term changes in energy input and represent the initiation of island recovery. Collectively, our results support the concept of dynamic rather than static reef islands and clearly demonstrate how short-term processes can influence interpretations of medium-term change.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: UNSPECIFIED
Research affiliation: Biogeochemistry and Geology > Geoecology & Carbonate Sedimentology
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
ISSN: 0169555X
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2019 13:23
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2020 12:59

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