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Sand dunes and other natural coastal barriers (e.g. barrier islands) represent important components of the defense system against consequences of storm surges. However, in many coastal systems, major storm surges represent important drivers of coastal erosion. Increased extreme events potentially result in accelerated coastal erosion, coastal barrier breaching, and coastal flooding. The response of a barrier to a storm surge is often determined by mutual interaction among the driving hydrodynamics, the subsequent morphodynamics, and the local geology, including spatial variations of subaqueous bathymetry and subaerial topography. However, the effect of alongshore variability of soil properties on the alongshore varying response is not yet considered. Therefore, this study examines soil parameters that may affect coastal erosion during major storm surges. Moreover, it applies a novel extension of the numerical model XBeach that accounts for spatial variation of soil properties to an artificial dune system of spatially varying soil permeability. Results showed that variability of soil permeability alongshore the dune results in alongshore varying resistance to erosion so that breaches may occur at the locations of less resistance that are corresponding to locations of higher soil permeability. Outcomes of the numerical simulations proved also that reduced soil permeability represents a nature-based solution that increases the resilience of natural defense systems during major storm surges by mitigating rates of coastal erosion.

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