Coastal erosion, climatic variability & beach-dune dynamics

We are exploring the interactions between ocean-atmosphere forcing and beach-dune responses by examining the erosive water level regime and observed high magnitude storm events that have occurred in coastal British Columbia.

Extra-tropical cyclonic storms force elevated surge and enhanced storm wave heights in the northeastern Pacific Ocean.  Examination of specific atmospheric and oceanographic forcing mechanisms (e.g., wave, surge, tide energy) that drive local erosion can establish a local erosive event regime.  We have found that several regionally relevant indicators of climatic variability (e.g., El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Aleutian Low Pressure Index (ALPI)) exert a strong influence on storm strength and associated erosive events.  Further decomposition of these events has revealed that erosion on the westcoast of Vancouver Island is dominated by enhanced wave energy (i.e., significant wave height and period, wave runup).









In collaboration with climatologist, Dr. David Atkinson (UVic Geog), this project investigates the relations between regional climatic variability phenomena (e.g., ENSO, PDO) and erosive water level events driven by coastal storms on the west coast of Vancouver Island. This project combines on-site erosion monitoring in Pacific Rim National Park with statistical examination of observed water levels (tides and residuals), wave conditions, and regional climatic variability indices. This research is sponsored by Dr. Walker's ongoing NSERC Discovery Grant.

Select Publications

Heathfield, DK, Walker, IJ, Atkinson, D (2013). Erosive water level regime and climate variability forcing on southwestern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms.

Barnard P, Short A, Harley M, Splinter K, Vitousek S, Turner I, Allan J, Banno M, Bryan K, Doria A, Hansen J, Kato S, Kuriyama Y, Randall-Goodwin E, Ruggiero P, Walker IJHeathfield D (2015). Coastal vulnerability across the Pacific dominated by El Niño/Southern Oscillation. Nature Geoscience 8: 801–807. (