Global potential for the growth of fresh groundwater resources with large beach nourishments

S. Huizer, A. P. Luijendijk, M. F.P. Bierkens, G. H.P. Oude Essink

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Whether a coastal area is suitable for beach nourishments and can induce a growth in fresh groundwater resources depends on the appropriateness of the intended site for beach nourishments, and the attainable growth in fresh groundwater resources. In this study we presume that all eroding sandy beaches are suitable for large beach nourishments, and focus on the impact of these nourishments on fresh groundwater in various coastal settings. The growth in fresh groundwater resources – as a consequence of the construction of a beach nourishment – was quantified with 2-D variable-density groundwater models, for a global range in geological parameters and hydrological processes. Our simulation results suggest that large beach nourishments will likely lead to a (temporary) increase of fresh groundwater resources in most settings. However, for a substantial growth in fresh groundwater, the coastal site should receive sufficient groundwater recharge, consist of sediment with a low to medium hydraulic conductivity, and be subject to a limited number of land-surface inundations. Our global analysis shows that 17% of shorelines may consist of erosive sandy beaches, and of these sites 50% have a high potential suitability. This shows a considerable potential worldwide to combine coastal protection with an increase in fresh groundwater resources.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12451
Number of pages14
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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