Efficient Modeling of Complex Sandy Coastal Evolution at Monthly to Century Time Scales

Dano Roelvink*, Bas Huisman, Ahmed Elghandour, Mohamed Ghonim, Johan Reyns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
42 Downloads (Pure)


With large-scale human interventions and climate change unfolding as they are now, coastal changes at decadal timescales are not limited to incremental modifications of systems that are fixed in their general geometry, but often show significant changes in layout that may be catastrophic for populations living in previously safe areas. This poses severe challenges that are difficult to meet for existing models. A new free-form coastline model, ShorelineS, is presented that is able to describe large coastal transformations based on relatively simple principles of alongshore transport gradient driven changes as a result of coastline curvature, including under highly obliquely incident waves, and consideration of splitting and merging of coastlines, and longshore transport disturbance by hard structures. An arbitrary number of coast sections is supported, which can be open or closed and can interact with each other through relatively straightforward merging and splitting mechanisms. Rocky parts or structures may block wave energy and/or longshore sediment transport. These features allow for a rich behavior including shoreline undulations and formation of spits, migrating islands, merging of coastal shapes, salients and tombolos. The main formulations of the (open-source) model, which is freely available at www.shorelines.nl, are presented. Test cases show the capabilities of the flexible, vector-based model approach, while field validation cases for a large-scale sand nourishment (the Sand Engine; 21 million m3) and an accreting groin scheme at Al-Gamil (Egypt) show the model’s capability of computing realistic rates of coastline change as well as a good representation of the shoreline shape for real situations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number535
Number of pages20
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • barrier
  • coastal evolution
  • coastline model
  • salient
  • spit
  • tombolo


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