Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 112–131 | Cite as

A Bayesian Approach to Predict Sub-Annual Beach Change and Recovery

  • Kat WilsonEmail author
  • Erika E. Lentz
  • Jennifer L. Miselis
  • Ilgar Safak
  • Owen T. Brenner


The upper beach, between the astronomical high tide and the dune-toe, supports habitat and recreation along many beaches, making predictions of upper beach change valuable to coastal managers and the public. We developed and tested a Bayesian network (BN) to predict the cross-shore position of an upper beach elevation contour (ZlD) following 1 month to 1-year intervals at Fire Island, New York. We combine hydrodynamic data with series of island-wide topographic data and spatially limited cross-shore profiles. First, we predicted beach configuration of ZlD positions at high spatial resolution (50 m) over intervals spanning 2005–2014. Compared to untrained model predictions, in which all six outcomes are equally likely (prior likelihood = 0.16), our prediction metrics (skill = 0.52; log likelihood ratio = 0.14; accuracy = 0.56) indicate the BN confidently predicts upper beach dynamics. Next, the BN forecasted three intervals of beach recovery following Hurricane Sandy. Results suggest the pre-Sandy training data is sufficiently robust to require only periodic updates to beach slope observations to maintain confidence for forecasts. Finally, we varied input data, using observations collected at a range of temporal (1–12 months) and spatial (50 m to > 1 km) resolutions to evaluate model skill. This experiment shows that data collection techniques with different spatial and temporal frequencies can be used to inform a single modeling framework and can provide insight to BN training requirements. Overall, results indicate that BNs and inputs can be developed for broad coastal change assessment or tailored to a set of predictive requirements, making this methodology applicable to a variety of coastal prediction scenarios.


Bayesian network Coastal geomorphology Barrier island Hurricane Sandy Beach recovery 



The authors are grateful to our partners at the National Park Service: Fire Island National Seashore. We thank USGS’s Joseph Long, Cheryl Hapke, and Rachel Henderson for their help through thoughtful discussions. Rachel Henderson extracted morphologic features from many of the datasets. We thank Benjamin Gutierrez, Nathaniel Plant, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and critiques. This work was supported by the National Park Service National Resource Preservation Program. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Supplementary material

12237_2018_444_MOESM1_ESM.docx (880 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 879 kb)


  1. ASPBA National Beach Nourishment Database, 2017. [13 June 2017].
  2. Belknap, D.F., and J.C. Kraft. 1985. Influence of antecedent geology on stratigraphic preservation potential and evolution of Delaware's barrier systems. Marine Geology 63 (1–4): 235–263. Scholar
  3. Blake ES, Kimberlain TB, Berg, RJ, Cangialosi JP, Beven JL. 2013. Tropical Cyclone Report Hurricane Sandy (AL182012) 22–29 October 2012. National Hurricane Center. Miami, Florida. 12 February 2013.Google Scholar
  4. Brenner, O.T., E.E. Lentz, C.J. Hapke, R.E. Henderson, K.E. Wilson, and T.R. Nelson. 2018. Characterizing storm response and recovery using the beach change envelope. Geomorphology 300: 189–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bruun, P. 1983. Beach scraping—is it damaging to beach stability? Coastal Engineering 7 (2): 167–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Carter, R.W.G., R.W. Johnston, J. Mckenna, and J.D. Oxford. 1987. Sea-level, sediment supply, and coastal changes: examples from the coast of Ireland. Progress in Oceanography 18 (1–4): 79–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Davidson-Arnott, R., and M.N. Law. 1996. Measurement and prediction of long-term sediment supply to coastal foredunes. Journal of Coastal Research 12 (3): 654–663.Google Scholar
  8. Delgado-Fernandez, I. 2011. Meso-scale modeling of aeolian sediment input to coastal dunes. Geomorphology 306 (3-4): 230–243. Scholar
  9. Do, C.B., and S. Batzoglou. 2008. What is the expectation maximization algorithm? Nature Biotechnology 26 (8): 897–899. Scholar
  10. Field Research Facility Data Portal. 2017. [1 February 2017].
  11. Fienen, M.N., and N.G. Plant. 2015. A cross-validation package driving Netica with python. Environmental Modelling & Software 63: 14–23. Scholar
  12. Fitzgerald, D.M., M.S. Fenster, B.A. Argow, and I.V. Buynevich. 2008. Coastal impacts to sea level rise. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 36 (1): 601–647. Scholar
  13. Gieder, K.D., S.M. Karpanty, J.D. Fraser, D.H. Catlin, B.T. Gutierrez, N.G. Plant, A.M. Turecek, and E.R. Thieler. 2014. A Bayesian network approach to predicting nest presence of the federally-threatened piping plover (Charadrius melodus) using barrier island features. Ecological Modelling 276: 38–50. Scholar
  14. Gutierrez, B.T., N.G. Plant, and E.R. Thieler. 2011. A Bayesian network to predict coastal vulnerability to sea level rise. Journal of Geophysical Research 116 (2).
  15. Gutierrez, B.T., N.G. Plant, E.R. Thieler, and A. Turecek. 2015. Using a Bayesian network to predict barrier island geomorphologic characteristics. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface 120 (12): 2452–2475. Scholar
  16. Hapke, C.J., and N.G. Plant. 2010. Predicting coastal cliff erosion using a Bayesian probabilistic model. Marine Geology 278 (1–4): 140–149. Scholar
  17. Hapke, C.J., E.E. Lentz, P.T. Gayes, C.A. McCoy, R.E. Hehre, W.C. Schwab, and S.J. Williams. 2010. A review of sediment budget imbalances along Fire Island, New York: can nearshore geologic framework and patterns of shoreline change explain the deficit? Journal of Coastal Research 263: 510–522. Scholar
  18. Hapke CJ, Brenner OT, Henderson RE, Reynolds BJ. 2013. Coastal change from Hurricane Sandy and the 2012–13 winter storm season—Fire Island, New York, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013–1231, U.S. Geological Survey: Reston, VA.
  19. Hapke CJ, Brenner OT, Henderson RE. 2015. Quantifying the geomorphic resiliency of barrier island beaches. Proceedings of the Coastal Sediments 2015, San Diego, CA, 11–15 May.
  20. Hapke, C.J., N.G. Plant, R.E. Henderson, W.C. Schwab, and T.R. Nelson. 2016. Decoupling processes and scales of shoreline morphodynamics. Marine Geology 381: 42–53. Scholar
  21. Henderson, R.H., C.J. Hapke, O.T. Brenner, and B.J. Reynolds. 2016. Hurricane Sandy beach response and recovery at Fire Island, New York: shoreline and beach profile data, October 2012 to October 2014: U.S. Geological Survey data series 931. Reston VA: US Geological Survey. Scholar
  22. Henderson, R.H., C.J. Hapke, O.T. Brenner, and B.J. Reynolds. 2017. Hurricane Sandy Beach response and recovery at Fire Island, New York: shoreline, beach profile data, and breach shoreline data: October 2012 to September 2016. Reston, VA: U.S. Geological Survey Data Release. U.S. Geological Survey. Scholar
  23. Houser, C., P. Wernette, E. Rentschlar, H. Jones, B. Hammon, and S. Trimble. 2015. Post-storm beach and dune recovery: implications for barrier island resilience. Geomorphology 234: 54–63. Scholar
  24. Jensen, F.V., and T.D. Nielsen. 2007. Bayesian networks and decision graphs. New York: Springer. Scholar
  25. Kratzmann, M.G., and C.J. Hapke. 2012. Quantifying anthropogenically driven morphologic changes on a barrier island: Fire Island National Seashore, New York. Journal of Coastal Research 28 (1): 76–88. Scholar
  26. Leatherman, S.P. 1985. Geomorphic and stratigraphic analysis of Fire Island, New York. Marine Geology 63 (1-4): 173–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lee, G., R.J. Nicholls, and W.A. Birkemeier. 1998. Storm-driven variability of the beach-nearshore profile at duck, North Carolina, USA, 1981-1991. Marine Geology 148 (3-4): 163–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lentz, E.E., and C.J. Hapke. 2011. Geologic framework influences on the geomorphology of an anthropogenically modified barrier island: assessment of dune/beach changes at Fire Island, New York. Geomorphology 126 (1-2): 82–96. Scholar
  29. Lentz, E.E., C.J. Hapke, H.F. Stockdon, and R.E. Hehre. 2013. Improving understanding of near-term barrier island evolution through multi-decadal assessment of morphologic change. Marine Geology 337: 125–139. Scholar
  30. Lentz, E.E., E.R. Thieler, N.G. Plant, S.R. Stippa, R.M. Horton, and D.B. Gesch. 2016. Evaluation of dynamic coastal response to sea-level rise modifies inundation likelihood. Nature Climate Change 6 (7): 696–700. Scholar
  31. Long, J.W., N.G. Plant, P.S. Dalyander, and D.M. Thompson. 2014. Probabilistic method for constructing wave time series at inshore locations using model scenarios. Coastal Engineering 89: 53–62. Scholar
  32. Lorenzo-Trueba, J., and A.D. Ashton. 2014. Rollover, drowning, and discontinuous retreat: distinct modes of barrier response to sea-level rise arising from a simple morphodynamic model. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface 119 (4): 779–801. Scholar
  33. Melillo JM, Richmond TC, Yohe GW, Eds. 2014. Climate change impacts in the United States: the third national climate assessment. U.S. Global Change Research Program, 841 pp.
  34. Miller, J.K., and R.G. Dean. 2004. A simple new shoreline change model. Coastal Engineering 51 (7): 531–556. Scholar
  35. Morton, R.A., and A.H. Sallenger. 2003. Morphologic impacts of extreme storms on sandy beaches and barriers. Journal of Coastal Research 19 (3): 560–573.Google Scholar
  36. Morton, R.A., J.G. Paine, and J.C. Gibeaut. 1994. Stages and durations of post storm beach recovery, southeastern Texas coast, U.S.a. Journal of Coastal Research 10 (4): 884–908.Google Scholar
  37. Norsys Software Corp. 2010. Netica-J Manual Version 4.18. Vancouver, Canada.Google Scholar
  38. Palmsten, M.L., K.T. Holland, and N.G. Plant. 2013. Velocity estimation using a Bayesian network in a critical-habitat reach of the Kootenai River, Idaho. Water Resources Research 49 (9): 5865–5879. Scholar
  39. Palmsten, M.L., K.D. Splinter, N.G. Plant, and H.F. Stockdon. 2014. Probabilistic estimation of dune retreat on the Gold Coast, Australia. Shore and Beach 4: 35–43.Google Scholar
  40. Pelnard-Considere, R. 1956. Essai de theorie do l’evolution des forms de rivageen plage de sable et de galets, 4me Journees de l’Hydraulique, Les Energies de la Mer, Question III, Rapport No. 1: 289–298, Societe Hydrotechnique de France, Paris, France.Google Scholar
  41. Plant, N.G., and K.T. Holland. 2011. Prediction and assimilation of surf-zone processes using a Bayesian network part I: forward models. Coastal Engineering 58 (1): 119–130. Scholar
  42. Plant, N.G., and H.F. Stockdon. 2012. Probabilistic prediction of barrier-island response to hurricanes. Journal of Geophysical Research 117 (F3): F03015. Scholar
  43. Plant, N.G., J. Flocks, H.F. Stockdon, J.W. Long, K. Guy, D.M. Thompson, J.M. Cormier, C.G. Smith, J.L. Miselis, and P.S. Dalyander. 2014. Predictions of barrier island berm evolution in time-varying storm climatology. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface 119 (2): 300–316. Scholar
  44. Plant, N.G., E.R. Thieler, and D.L. Passeri. 2016. Coupling centennial-scale shoreline change to sea-level rise and coastal morphology in the Gulf of Mexico using a Bayesian network. Earth’s Future 4 (5): 143–157. Scholar
  45. Priestas, A.M., and S. Fagherazzi. 2010. Morphological barrier island changes and recovery of dunes after hurricane Dennis, St. George Island, Florida. Geomorphology 114 (3-4): 614–626. Scholar
  46. Program for the study of developed shorelines, 2017. [13 June 2017].
  47. Reeve, D.E., H. Karunarathna, S. Pan, J.M. Horrillo-Caraballo, G. Rozynski, and R. Ranasinghe. 2016. Data-driven and hybrid coastal morphological prediction methods for mesoscale forecasting. Geomorphology 256: 49–67. Scholar
  48. Riggs, S.R., W.J. Cleary, and S.W. Snyder. 1995. Influence of inherited geologic framework on barrier shoreface morphology and dynamics. Marine Geology 126 (1-4): 213–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Roelvink, D., A. Reniers, A. van Dongeren, J. van Thiel de Vries, R. McCall, and J. Lescinski. 2009. Modelling storm impacts on beaches, dunes and barrier islands. Coastal Engineering 56 (11–12): 1133–1152. Scholar
  50. Safak, I., J.C. Warner, and J.H. List. 2016. Barrier island breach evolution: alongshore transport and bay-ocean pressure gradient interactions. Journal of Geophysical Research Oceans 121 (12): 8720–8730. Scholar
  51. Safak, I., J.H. List, J.C. Warner, and W.C. Schwab. 2017. Persistent shoreline shape induced from offshore geologic framework: effects of shoreface connected ridges. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 122 (11): 8721–8738. Scholar
  52. Schwab, W.C., E.R. Thieler, J.R. Allen, D.S. Foster, B.A. Swift, and J.F. Denny. 2000. Influence of inner-continental shelf geologic framework on the evolution and behavior of the barrier-island system between Fire Island inlet and Shinnecock inlet, Long Island, New York. Journal of Coastal Research 16: 408–422.Google Scholar
  53. Schwab, W.C., W.E. Baldwin, C.J. Hapke, E.E. Lentz, P.T. Gayes, J.F. Denny, P.T. Gayes, and J.C. Warner. 2013. Geologic evidence for onshore sediment transport from the inner-continental shelf: Fire Island, New York. Journal of Coastal Research 29 (3): 536–544.Google Scholar
  54. Schwab, W.C., W.E. Baldwin, J.F. Denny, C.J. Hapke, P.T. Gayes, J.H. List, and J.C. Warner. 2014. Modification of the quaternary stratigraphic framework of the inner-continental shelf by Holocene marine transgression: an example offshore of Fire Island, New York. Marine Geology 355: 346–360. Scholar
  55. Short, A.D., and P.A. Hesp. 1982. Wave, beach and dune interactions in southeastern Australia. Marine Geology 48 (3-4): 259–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Splinter, K.D., I.L. Turner, M.A. Davidson, P. Barnard, B. Castelle, and J. Oltman-Shay. 2014. A generalized equilibrium model for predicting daily to interannual shoreline response. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface 119 (9): 1936–1958. Scholar
  57. Splinter, K.D., I.L. Turner, M. Reinhardt, and G. Ruessink. 2017. Rapid adjustment of shoreline behavior to changing seasonality of storms: observations and modelling at an open-coast beach. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 42 (8): 1186–1194. Scholar
  58. Stockdon, H.F., R.A. Holman, P.A. Howd, and A.H. Sallenger. 2006. Empirical parameterization of setup, swash, and runup. Coastal Engineering 53 (7): 573–588. Scholar
  59. Stockdon, H.F., A.H. Sallenger Jr., R.A. Holman, and P.A. Howd. 2007. A simple model for the spatially-variable coastal response to hurricanes. Marine Geology 238 (14): 1–20. Scholar
  60. Turner, I.L., M.D. Harley, A.D. Short, J.A. Simmons, M.A. Bracs, M.S. Phillips, and K.D. Splinter. 2016. A multi-decade dataset of monthly beach profile surveys and inshore wave forcing at Narrabeen. Australia. Scientific Data 3: 160024. Scholar
  61. U.S. Climate Change Science Program. 2009. Coastal sensitivity to sea-level rise: A Focus on the Mid-Atlantic Region. A report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington D.C., USA, 320 pp.Google Scholar
  62. Warner, J.C., J.H. List, W.C. Schwab, G. Voulgaris, B.N. Armstrong, and N. Marshall. 2014. Inner-shelf circulation and sediment dynamics on a series of shoreface connected ridges offshore of Fire Island, New York. Ocean Dynamics 64 (2): 1767–1781.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Warner, J.C., W.C. Schwab, J.H. List, I. Safak, M. Liste, and W. Baldwin. 2017. Inner-shelf ocean dynamics and seafloor morphologic changes during Hurricane Sandy. Continental Shelf Research 138: 1–8. Scholar
  64. Wilson, K.E., P.N. Adams, C.J. Hapke, E.E. Lentz, and O.T. Brenner. 2015. Application of Bayesian networks to hindcast barrier island morphodynamics. Coastal Engineering 102: 30–43. Scholar
  65. Wilson, K.E., C.J. Hapke, R.E. Henderson, E.E. Lentz, J.L. Miselis, and P.M. Weppler. 2017. Post-hurricane Sandy Beach profile survey—Fire Island inlet to Moriches inlet 2013. Reston, VA: U.S. Geological Survey Data Release. U.S. Geological Survey. Scholar
  66. Wright LD, Short AD. 1984. Morphodynamic variability of surf zones and beaches: a synthesis. Marine Geology 56: 93–118.Google Scholar
  67. Wright, L.D., A.D. Short, and M. Green. 1985. Short-term changes in the morphodynamic states of beaches and surf zones: an empirical predictive model. Marine Geology 62 (3–4): 339–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Yang, S.L., J. Zhang, J. Zhu, P. Smith, S.B. Dai, A. Gao, and P. Li. 2005. Impacts of dams on Yangtze River sediment supply to the sea and delta intertidal wetland response. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface 110 (F3): F03006. Scholar
  69. Yates, M.L., R.T. Guza, and W.C. O’Reilly. 2009. Equilibrium shoreline response: observations and modeling. Journal of Geophysical Research 114 (C9): C09014. Scholar

Copyright information

© This is a U.S. government work and its text is not subject to copyright protection in the United States; however, its text may be subject to foreign copyright protection 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cherokee Nation Technologies contracted to U.S. Geological Survey, St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science CenterSt PetersburgUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological Survey, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science CenterWoods HoleUSA
  3. 3.U.S. Geological Survey, St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science CenterSt PetersburgUSA

Personalised recommendations