Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 62, Issue 7, pp 1001–1015 | Cite as

Toward reliable storm-hazard forecasts: XBeach calibration and its potential application in an operational early-warning system

  • Michalis I. Vousdoukas
  • Óscar Ferreira
  • Luís P. Almeida
  • André Pacheco
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Multi-scale modelling of coastal, shelf and global ocean dynamics


The study aims to calibrate/validate and apply the dune-erosion model, XBeach, in order to predict morphological response to storm events along a meso-tidal, steeply sloping beach. More than 10,000 XBeach calibration runs, including different model parameters and erosion events, were compared with measurements of beach-profile response to storm conditions. Off-shore wave and tidal measurements were used as input for a SWAN wave model, which was used to provide wave conditions to XBeach. The results indicate that using XBeach to predict beach-profile morphodynamic response during storm events on steeply sloping intermediate-to-reflective beaches may be more demanding than for dissipative beaches and that the default model setup can overestimate dune/beach-face erosion. The performance of the model after calibration was satisfactory, with Brier Skill Scores from 0.2 to 0.72. XBeach was found to be more sensitive to input parameters such as the beach-face slope and the surf similarity parameter ξ (especially for values ξ > 0.6). The calibrated XBeach setup was used for simulations of storm scenarios with different return periods (5, 25, and 50 years), and the simulations highlighted the fragility of the dune field and the potential for storm-induced dune retreat, lowering, and overwash in the study area. Finally, the nested SWAN/XBeach models were forced by an existing operational wave-forecast WAVEWATCH-III/SWAN model, operated by the Portuguese Hydrographic Institute to generate daily forecasts of storm impact and serve as a prototype-case for an early warning system for storm hazard mitigation.


Beach erosion Coastal storms XBeach Sediment transport Beach profile evolution Numerical modeling Early warning system 



The authors gratefully acknowledge European Community Seventh Framework Program funding under the research project MICORE (grant agreement No. 202798). We are also thankful to: Simon Connor for improving the English in the manuscript; Umberto Andriolo and Fotis Psaros for their contributions in field-data acquisition; to the group of XBeach developers and particularly Ap Van Dongeren, Jaap Van Thiels De Vries, Robert McCall, Bas Hoonhout, and Dano Roelvink for their continuous support with the model; Rui Taborda and Guillaume Dodet for their contributions in earlier modeling efforts; and to Caroline Gautier and Ana Zacharioudaki for helpful suggestions while setting up the SWAN model. Finally, we are thankful to the three anonymous reviewers who, with their constructive comments, improved the quality of the manuscript substantially.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michalis I. Vousdoukas
    • 1
    • 2
  • Óscar Ferreira
    • 2
  • Luís P. Almeida
    • 2
  • André Pacheco
    • 2
  1. 1.Forschungszentrum KüsteHannoverGermany
  2. 2.CIMA, University of Algarve, Campus de GambelasFaroPortugal

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