Articles | Volume 11, issue 2
Research article
15 Feb 2011
Research article |  | 15 Feb 2011

Probabilistic coastal vulnerability assessment to storms at regional scale – application to Catalan beaches (NW Mediterranean)

E. Bosom and J. A. Jiménez

Abstract. A methodology to assess storm-induced coastal vulnerability taking into account the different induced processes separately (inundation and erosion) is presented. It is based on a probabilistic approach where hazards time series are built from existing storm data and later used to fit an extreme probability function. This is done for different sectors along the coast defined in terms of the wave climate and for representative beach types of the area to be analyzed. Once probability distributions are available, coastal managers must decide the probability of occurrence to be accepted as well as the period of concern of the analysis in function of the importance of the hinterland. These two variables will determine the return period to be considered in the assessment. The comparison of hazards and vulnerabilities associated with the selected probability of occurrence permit to identify the most hazardous areas along the coast in a robust manner by including the spatial variability in forcing (storm climate) and receptor (beaches). The methodology has been applied to a 50 km long coastal stretch of the Catalonia (NW Mediterranean) where offshore wave conditions can be assumed to be homogeneous. In spite of this spatially constant wave field, obtained results indicate a large variability in hazards intensity and vulnerability along the coast.