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Beneficial use of dredged sediment to enhance salt marsh development by applying a ‘Mud Motor’
Baptist, Martin J. ; Gerkema, T. ; Prooijen, B.C. van; Maren, D.S. van; Regteren, M. van; Schulz, K. ; Colosimo, I. ; Vroom, J. ; Kessel, T. van; Grasmeijer, B. ; Willemsen, P. ; Elschot, K. ; Groot, A.V. de; Cleveringa, J. ; Eekelen, E.M.M. van; Schuurman, F. ; Lange, H.J. de; Puijenbroek, M.E.B. van - \ 2019
Ecological Engineering 127 (2019). - ISSN 0925-8574 - p. 312 - 323.
Building with Nature - Nature-based solutions - Cohesive sediment - Dredging - Salt marshes - intertidal flats
We test an innovative approach to beneficially re-use dredged sediment to enhance salt marsh development. A Mud Motor is a dredged sediment disposal in the form of a semi-continuous source of mud in a shallow tidal channel allowing natural processes to disperse the sediment to nearby mudflats and salt marshes. We describe the various steps in the design of a Mud Motor pilot: numerical simulations with a sediment transport model to explore suitable disposal locations, a tracer experiment to measure the transport fate of disposed mud, assessment of the legal requirements, and detailing the planning and technical feasibility. An extensive monitoring and research programme was designed to measure sediment transport rates and the response of intertidal mudflats and salt marshes to an increased sediment load. Measurements include the sediment transport in the tidal channel and on the shallow mudflats, the vertical accretion of intertidal mudflats and salt marsh, and the salt marsh vegetation cover and composition. In the Mud Motor pilot a total of 470,516 m 3
of fine grained sediment (D50 of ∼10 μm) was disposed over two winter seasons, with an average of 22 sediment disposals per week of operation. Ship-based measurements revealed a periodic vertical salinity stratification that is inverted compared to a classical estuary and that is working against the asymmetric flood-dominated transport direction. Field measurements on the intertidal mudflats showed that the functioning of the Mud Motor, i.e. the successful increased mud transport toward the salt marsh, is significantly dependent on wind and wave forcing. Accretion measurements showed relatively large changes in surface elevation due to deposition and erosion of layers of
watery mud with a thickness of up to 10 cm on a time scale of days. The measurements indicate notably higher sediment dynamics during periods of Mud Motor disposal. The salt marsh demonstrated significant vertical accretion though this has not yet led to horizontal expansion because there was more hydrodynamic stress than foreseen. In carrying out the pilot we learned that the feasibility of a Mud Motor depends on an assessment of additional travel time for the dredger, the effectiveness on salt marsh growth, reduced dredging volumes in a port, and many other practical issues. Our improved understanding on the transport processes in the channel and on the mudflats and salt marsh yields design lessons and guiding principles for future applications of sediment
management in salt marsh development that include a Mud Motor approach
Reacties zeevogels in windparken bij doorvaart
Leopold, Mardik ; Geelhoed, Steve ; Verdaat, Hans ; Kühn, Susanne ; Puijenbroek, Marinka van - \ 2018
Den Helder : Wageningen Marine Research (Wageningen Marine Research rapport C066/18a) - 129
|TMAP Kwelders. Tussenrapportage WOT-04-009-035.02
Elschot, Kelly ; Puijenbroek, M.E.B. van - \ 2018
Wettelijke Onderzoekstaken Natuur & Milieu (WOt-interne notitie 222)
Cumulatieve effecten van offshore wind parken: habitatverlies zeevogels : update voor vijf zeevogelsoorten tot 2030
Wal, J.T. van der; Puijenbroek, M.E.B. van; Leopold, M.F. - \ 2018
Den Helder : Wageningen Marine Research (Wageningen Marine Research rapport C059/18) - 96
UAV-imaging to model growth response of marram grass to sand burial : Implications for coastal dune development
Nolet, Corjan ; Puijenbroek, Marinka van; Suomalainen, Juha ; Limpens, Juul ; Riksen, M.J.P.M. - \ 2018
Aeolian Research 31 (2018). - ISSN 1875-9637 - p. 50 - 61.
Ammophila arenaria - Coastal aeolian dynamics - Gaussian response model - Plant-sand interaction - Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
Vegetated coastal dunes have the capacity to keep up with sea-level rise by accumulating and stabilizing wind-blown sand. In Europe, this is attributed to marram grass (Ammophila arenaria), a coastal grass species that combines two unique advantages for dune-building: (1) a very high tolerance to burial by wind-blown sand, and (2) more vigorous growth due to positive feedback to sand burial. However, while these vegetation characteristics have been demonstrated, observational data has not been used to model a function to describe the growth response of Ammophila to sand burial. Studies that model coastal dune development by incorporating positive feedback, as a result, may be hampered by growth functions that are unvalidated against field data. Therefore, this study aims to parameterize an empirical relationship to model the growth response of Ammophila to burial by wind-blown sand.A coastal foredune along a nourished beach in the Netherlands was monitored from April 2015 to April 2016. High-resolution geospatial data was acquired using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Growth response of Ammophila, expressed by changes in Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (δ NDVI) and vegetation cover (δ Cover), is related to a sand burial gradient by fitting a Gaussian function using nonlinear quantile regression. The regression curves indicate an optimal burial rate for Ammophila of 0.31. m of sand per growing season, and suggest (by extrapolation of the data) a maximum burial tolerance for Ammophila between 0.78 (for δ Cover) and 0.96. m (for δ NDVI) of sand per growing season. These findings are advantageous to coastal management: maximizing the potential of Ammophila to develop dunes maximizes the potential of coastal dunes to provide coastal safety.
Exploring the contributions of vegetation and dune size to early dune development using unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) imaging
Puijenbroek, Marinka E.B. van; Nolet, Corjan ; Groot, Alma V. de; Suomalainen, Juha M. ; Riksen, Michel J.P.M. ; Berendse, Frank ; Limpens, Juul - \ 2017
Biogeosciences 14 (2017)23. - ISSN 1726-4170 - p. 5533 - 5549.
Dune development along highly dynamic land-sea boundaries is the result of interaction between vegetation and dune size with sedimentation and erosion processes. Disentangling the contribution of vegetation characteristics from that of dune size would improve predictions of nebkha dune development under a changing climate, but has proven difficult due to the scarcity of spatially continuous monitoring data. This study explored the contributions of vegetation and dune size to dune development for locations differing in shelter from the sea. We monitored a natural nebkha dune field of 8 ha, along the coast of the island Texel, the Netherlands, for 1 year using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with camera. After constructing a digital surface model and orthomosaic we derived for each dune (1) vegetation characteristics (species composition, vegetation density, and maximum vegetation height), (2) dune size (dune volume, area, and maximum height), (3) degree of shelter (proximity to other nebkha dunes and the sheltering by the foredune). Changes in dune volume over summer and winter were related to vegetation, dune size and degree of shelter. We found that a positive change in dune volume (dune growth) was linearly related to initial dune volume over summer but not over winter. Big dunes accumulated more sand than small dunes due to their larger surface area. Exposed dunes increased more in volume (0.81 % per dune per week) than sheltered dunes (0.2 % per dune per week) over summer, while the opposite occurred over winter. Vegetation characteristics did not significantly affect dune growth in summer, but did significantly affect dune growth in winter. Over winter, dunes dominated by Ammophila arenaria, a grass species with high vegetation density throughout the year, increased more in volume than dunes dominated by Elytrigia juncea, a grass species with lower vegetation density (0.43 vs. 0.42 (m3 m-3) week-1). The effect of species was irrespective of dune size or distance to the sea. Our results show that dune growth in summer is mainly determined by dune size, whereas in winter dune growth was determined by vegetation type. In our study area the growth of exposed dunes was likely restricted by storm erosion, whereas growth of sheltered dunes was restricted by sand supply. Our results can be used to improve models predicting coastal dune development.
Dunes, above and beyond : The interactions between ecological and geomorphological processes during early dune development
Puijenbroek, Marinka E.B. - \ 2017
Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Frank Berendse, co-promotor(en): Juul Limpens. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789463432146 - 183
dunes - geomorphology - ecology - vegetation - duneland plants - beaches - duinen - geomorfologie - ecologie - vegetatie - duinplanten - stranden
Coastal dunes occur along the sandy shores of most continents where they serve as coastal defence against flooding, provide areas for recreation, store drinking water and harbour unique biodiversity. Coastal dunes and the services they provide are threatened by climate-induced sea-level rise. This threat may be mitigated by the spontaneous formation of new dunes, for example in combination with mega-nourishments aimed at increasing beach width. Coastal dunes form by the interaction between vegetation, wind and wave action. Persistent dune development begins with the establishment of vegetation on the beach: the vegetation traps the wind-blown sand, forming an embryo dune. Over time an embryo dune can develop into a bigger foredune, increasing coastal safety. The formation and development of embryo dunes into foredunes depend on the vegetation establishment on the beach, dune growth over summer and dune erosion during winter. Although vegetation succession and geomorphological processes are each well described, the interaction between ecological and geomorphological processes during embryo dune development are not well known. The thesis aimed at further exploring these interactions, using a combination of experiments and high-resolution dune monitoring to study the mechanisms underlying early dune development and their implications for mega-nourishment design.
To explore whether soil salinity, salt spray or storms determine the vegetation limit of dune building plant species on the beach, we performed a field transplantation experiment and a glasshouse experiment with two dune building grasses Ammophila arenaria and Elytrigia juncea. In the field growth of grasses transplanted into four vegetation zones from sea to dune was monitored for over a year and the response of these species to salt spray and soil salinity was tested in a glasshouse experiment. In the field, the vegetation zones were associated with differences in summer soil salinity: zones with both species present were significantly less saline than zones with only E. juncea or the zones without any vegetation. However, in our experiments the transplanted A. arenaria performed equal or better than E. juncea in all vegetation zones, suggesting soil salinity did not limit species performance at the studied site. Both species showed severe winter mortality. In the glasshouse experiment, A. arenaria biomass decreased linearly with soil salinity, presumably as a result of osmotic stress. Elytrigia juncea showed a nonlinear response to soil salinity with an optimum at 0.75% soil salinity and a decrease in biomass at higher salt concentrations. Our findings suggest that soil salinity stress either takes place in winter during storm inundation, or that development of vegetated dunes is less sensitive to soil salinity than hitherto expected.
To understand the boundary conditions for embryo dune development over a longer time period we explored the effects of beach morphology, meteorological conditions and sand nourishment on early dune development using a 30 year time series of aerial photographs and beach profile monitoring data. We concluded that 1) beach morphology is highly influential in determining the potential for new dune development, with wide beaches enabling development of larger embryo dune fields, 2) sand nourishments stimulate early dune development by increasing beach width, and 3) weather conditions and non-interrupted sequences of years without high-intensity storms determine whether progressive dune development will take place.
Dune development is the result of the interaction between vegetation development and sedimentation and erosion processes. To disentangle the effects of vegetation characteristics and that of dune size we monitored a natural dune field of 8 hectares for one year using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with a camera. By constructing a digital surface model and a geometrical corrected image (an orthomosaic) for each flight campaign we calculated changes in dune volume over summer and winter and related these changes to vegetation, dune size and degree of shelter. The dune growth over summer was mainly determined by dune size, whereas dune growth over winter was determined by vegetation characteristics. Degree of shelter determined whether dune growth was limited by storm erosion (exposed dunes) or sand supply (sheltered dunes). These results suggest that vegetation characteristic may be particularly important for resisting storm erosion and speeding up recovery after erosion.
Embryo dunes have been hypothesised to facilitate development of species rich green beach vegetation in the sheltered location between the embryo dunes and the primary foredunes. To test this hypothesis we explored the relative impacts of abiotic soil conditions as affected by the geomorphological setting on the species richness and species turn-over of green beach vegetation. To this end we characterised the geomorphology and measured abiotic conditions and species composition of green beach vegetation along transects from beach to foredune. We found that the geomorphological setting influenced plant species composition indirectly by affecting soil salinity and rate of sand burial. We found that plant species richness declined less at sheltered conditions, where there was a build-up of organic matter and no sand burial. Our results further suggest a non-linear relationship between embryo dune volume and number of green beach species: embryo dunes can be a source of shelter, thus stimulating green beach development, but can also compete for space, reducing green beach development. The net effect of embryo dunes most likely depends on the sediment budget of the beach and storm intensity.
Mega-nourishments are single large sand nourishments that are applied locally, and are expected to exist for about 20 years, providing opportunities for the development of embryo dunes and rare pioneer plant communities (green beach vegetation). We explored this potential by comparing growth and development of dune building species on natural beaches with the results of plant transplantation and monitoring data of two mega-nourishments: the low-elevated Hondsbossche Duinen and the high-elevated Sandmotor. Our results suggest that establishment of dune building species on high-elevated mega-nourishment proceed slower than on natural beaches due to dispersal limitation. Once vegetation has established however, embryo dune development on high-elevated mega-nourishments may proceed faster than natural beaches due to low salinity and protection against storm erosion. Development of dune-building vegetation on the low-elevated mega-nourishment Hondsbossche Duinen showed the same rate and pattern as that on a natural beach. The potential for embryo dune development on mega-nourishments is far bigger than the potential for green beach development, since green beach vegetation develops under a narrower range of abiotic conditions. Such abiotic conditions can develop behind the shelter of embryo dunes or foredunes at low beach elevations.
In conclusion this thesis shows that, 1) the potential of embryo dune development depends on a large beach width and low storm erosion which determines the vegetation limit. 2) Embryo dune growth over summer is mainly determined by existing dune volume and sand supply. 3) Heavy storms limit embryo dune development during winter, although dune erosion can be mitigated by vegetation composition. 4) On accreting beaches which continuously provide area for the development of new embryo dunes green beach vegetation can develop. 5) The design of a mega-nourishment determines the potential for the development of embryo dunes and green beach vegetation. Our findings provide insights in the interaction between ecological and geomorphological processes that determine embryo dune development. This knowledge can help to obtain better predictions of embryo dune development under the threat of sea-level rise.
Supporting data for the publication: Exploring the contributions of vegetation and dune size to early dune development using unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-imaging
Puijenbroek, M.E.B. van; Nolet, C. ; Groot, A.V. de; Suomalainen, J.M. ; Riksen, M.J.P.M. ; Berendse, F. ; Limpens, J. - \ 2017
Ammophila arenaria - beach-dune interaction - Elytrigia juncea - landform morphology - Nebkha dunes - Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)-imaging
Data published in paper: Marinka E.B. van Puijenbroek, Corjan Nolet, Alma V. de Groot, Juha M. Suomalainen, Michel J.P.M. Riksen, Frank Berendse and Juul Limpens (2017) Exploring the contributions of vegetation and dune size to early dune development using unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-imaging. Included is the final dataset which is used for the statistical test and data on the accuracy of UAV imaging.
Dataset: Does salt stress constrain spatial distribution of dune building species Ammophila arenaria and Elytrigia juncea?
Puijenbroek, M.E.B. van; Teichmann, C. ; Meijdam, Noortje ; Oliveras Menor, I. ; Berendse, F. ; Limpens, J. - \ 2017
Coastal dunes - Soil salinity - Plant growth - Plant establishment - Dune natural development - Dune building plant science - Coastal protection
The study consist of three parts 1. Field transplant experiment with two dune building grasses 2. Soil salinity measurements in the field 3. Glasshouse experiment with two dune building grasses
Does salt stress constrain spatial distribution of dune building grasses Ammophila arenaria and Elytrichia juncea on the beach?
Puijenbroek, M.E.B. van; Teichmann, C. ; Meijdam, Noortje ; Oliveras Menor, I. ; Berendse, F. ; Limpens, J. - \ 2017
Ecology and Evolution 7 (2017)18. - ISSN 2045-7758 - p. 7290 - 7303.
Rising sea levels threaten coastal safety by increasing the risk of flooding. Coastal dunes provide a natural form of coastal protection. Understanding drivers that constrain early development of dunes is necessary to assess whether dune development may keep pace with sea-level rise. In this study, we explored to what extent salt stress experienced by dune building plant species constrains their spatial distribution at the Dutch sandy coast. We conducted a field transplantation experiment and a glasshouse experiment with two dune building grasses Ammophila arenaria and Elytrigia juncea. In the field, we measured salinity and monitored growth of transplanted grasses in four vegetation zones: (I) nonvegetated beach, (II) E. juncea occurring, (III) both species co-occurring, and (IV) A. arenaria dominant. In the glasshouse, we subjected the two species to six soil salinity treatments, with and without salt spray. We monitored biomass, photosynthesis, leaf sodium, and nutrient concentrations over a growing season. The vegetation zones were weakly associated with summer soil salinity; zone I and II were significantly more saline than zones III and IV. Ammophila arenaria performed equally (zone II) or better (zones III, IV) than E. juncea, suggesting soil salinity did not limit species performance. Both species showed severe winter mortality. In the glasshouse, A. arenaria biomass decreased linearly with soil salinity, presumably as a result of osmotic stress. Elytrigia juncea showed a nonlinear response to soil salinity with an optimum at 0.75% soil salinity. Our findings suggest that soil salinity stress either takes place in winter, or that development of vegetated dunes is less sensitive to soil salinity than hitherto expected.
Embryo dune development drivers: beach morphology, growing season precipitation, and storms
Puijenbroek, M.E.B. van; Limpens, J. ; Groot, Alma de; Riksen, M.J.P.M. ; Gleichman, J.M. ; Slim, P.A. ; Dobben, H.F. van; Berendse, F. - \ 2017
Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 42 (2017)11. - ISSN 0197-9337 - p. 1733 - 1744.
For development of embryo dunes on the highly dynamic land–sea boundary, summer growth and the absence of winter erosion are essential. Other than that, however, we know little about the specific conditions that favour embryo dune development. This study explores the boundary conditions for early dune development to enable better predictions of natural dune expansion. Using a 30 year time series of aerial photographs of 33 sites along the Dutch coast, we assessed the influence of beach morphology (beach width and tidal range), meteorological conditions (storm characteristics, wind speed, growing season precipitation, and temperature), and sand nourishment on early dune development. We examined the presence and area of embryo dunes in relation to beach width and tidal range, and compared changes in embryo dune area to meteorological conditions and whether sand nourishment had been applied. We found that the presence and area of embryo dunes increased with increasing beach width. Over time, embryo dune area was negatively correlated with storm intensity and frequency. Embryo dune area was positively correlated with precipitation in the growing season and sand nourishment. Embryo dune area increased in periods of low storm frequency and in wet summers, and decreased in periods of high storm frequency or intensity. We conclude that beach morphology is highly influential in determining the potential for new dune development, and wide beaches enable development of larger embryo dune fields. Sand nourishment stimulates dune development by increasing beach width. Finally, weather conditions and non-interrupted sequences of years without high-intensity storms determine whether progressive dune development will take place.
Data from: Facultative grazing and bioturbation by macrodetritivores alter saltmarsh plant-plant interactions under stress
Howison, Ruth A. ; Olff, H. ; Puijenbroek, M.E.B. van; Smit, Christian - \ 2016
abiotic stress - bioturbation - facultative grazing - plant-plant interactions - salt marsh - stress gradient hypothesis - water logging - Elytrigia atherica - Festuca rubra - Orchestia gammarellus - holocene
The importance of positive plant-plant interactions is generally suggested to increase towards more stressful conditions, due to mutual stress amelioration between plants. Bioturbating macrodetritivores can also ameliorate stress through bioturbation, but can also become selective herbivores under food-limited conditions, making the outcome of plant-plant interactions under stress in the presence of macrodetritivores unclear. We studied how combining environmental stress (waterlogging) with the presence of the soil macrodetritivore Orchestia gammarellus affected the outcome of the interaction between two salt marsh plants: the tall, late successional Elytrigia atherica and the shorter, early successional Festuca rubra. In a replacement design competition experiment under controlled conditions, we found that soil redox potential was negatively affected by waterlogging and positively affected by the presence of O. gammarellus. The survival and shoot biomass of E. atherica was not significantly affected by waterlogging or by the presence of bioturbators. The survival and shoot biomass of F. rubra was especially decreased when waterlogging was combined with the presence of O. gammarellus, as this macrodetritivore turned into a selective grazer on F. rubra under these conditions. We found that E. atherica produced double shoot biomass and F. rubra produced much less shoot biomass in their mixed cultures than was expected from the monocultures of same waterlogging/Orchestia treatments. Hence, the presence of the bioturbator strongly promoted the competitive advantage of E. atherica over F. rubra due to the combination of stress amelioration for the first species and selective herbivory on the second species. Synthesis: This study shows that the inclusion of bioturbating macrodetritivores complicates the standard prediction that plant-plant interactions become more positive towards more stressful conditions. A novel insight is that macrodetritivores can affect the structure and diversity of plant communities through multiple mechanisms. Under benign conditions bioturbating macrodetritivores ameliorated soil conditions, permitting co-occurrence of competing plant species. At high environmental stress (waterlogging) macrodetritivores selectively graze higher quality plant species and emerging seedlings, thus promoting dominance of the lower quality species. Hence the facultative feeding behavior of macrodetritivores deserves further attention
Facultative grazing and bioturbation by macrodetritivores alter saltmarsh plant–plant interactions under stress
Howison, Ruth A. ; Olff, H. ; Puijenbroek, M.E.B. van; Smit, Christian - \ 2016
Journal of Ecology 104 (2016)4. - ISSN 0022-0477 - p. 1149 - 1157.
1.The importance of positive plant–plant interactions is generally suggested to increase towards more stressful conditions, due to mutual stress amelioration between plants. Bioturbating macrodetritivores can also ameliorate stress through bioturbation, but can also become selective herbivores under food-limited conditions, making the outcome of plant–plant interactions under stress in the presence of macrodetritivores unclear.
2.We studied how combining environmental stress (waterlogging) with the presence of the soil macrodetritivore Orchestia gammarellus affected the outcome of the interaction between two salt marsh plants: the tall, late successional Elytrigia atherica and the shorter, early successional Festuca rubra.
3.In a replacement design competition experiment under controlled conditions, we found that soil redox potential was negatively affected by waterlogging and positively affected by the presence of O. gammarellus. The survival and shoot biomass of E. atherica was not significantly affected by waterlogging or by the presence of bioturbators. The survival and shoot biomass of F. rubra was especially decreased when waterlogging was combined with the presence of O. gammarellus, as this macrodetritivore turned into a selective grazer on F. rubra under these conditions.
4.We found that E. atherica produced double shoot biomass and F. rubra produced much less shoot biomass in their mixed cultures than was expected from the monocultures of same waterlogging/Orchestia treatments. Hence, the presence of the bioturbator strongly promoted the competitive advantage of E. atherica over F. rubra due to the combination of stress amelioration for the first species and selective herbivory on the second species.
5.Synthesis. This study shows that the inclusion of bioturbating macrodetritivores complicates the standard prediction that plant–plant interactions become more positive towards more stressful conditions. A novel insight is that macrodetritivores can affect the structure and diversity of plant communities through multiple mechanisms. Under benign conditions bioturbating macrodetritivores ameliorated soil conditions, permitting co-occurrence of competing plant species. At high environmental stress (waterlogging) macrodetritivores selectively graze higher quality plant species and emerging seedlings, thus promoting dominance of the lower quality species. Hence, the facultative feeding behaviour of macrodetritivores deserves further attention.
Overview of UAV activities in Wageningen unmanned aerial remote sensing facility
Suomalainen, J.M. ; Anders, Niels ; Franke, G.J. ; Bartholomeus, H.M. ; Nolet, C. ; Puijenbroek, M.E.B. van; Kramer, H. ; Keesstra, S.D. ; Mücher, C.A. ; Kooistra, L. - \ 2015
In: The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, Volume XL-1/W4, 2015, Toronto, Canada Toronto, Canada :
|Relating climate and sand transport to incipient dune development
Puijenbroek, M.E.B. van; Limpens, J. ; Gleichman, J.M. ; Berendse, F. - \ 2014
Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 16, EGU2014-14833, 2014 EGU General Assembly 2014 © Author(s) 2014. CC Attribution 3.0 License. Relating climate and sand transport to incipient dune development. Marinka van Puijenbroek, Juul Limpens, Maurits Gleichman, and Frank Berendse Nature Conversation and Plant Ecologie Group, Wageningen University, Wagingen, Netherlands (email@example.com) Sea levels are continuously rising, increasing the risk of flooding and coastal erosion in low-elevation countries, such as the Netherlands. Coastal dunes are seen as a flexible and natural type of coastal defence, that is able to keep pace with rising water levels. Until now most research has focussed on dynamics and maintenance of established dunes, largely ignoring two critical transitions in early dune development: the transition from bare beach to vegetated incipient dune and that from incipient dune to established foredune. This knowledge is essential to enable more accurate prediction and even stimulation of new dune formation through sand nourishment. We explored the relative contributions of climate and sand transport to incipient dune development combining a 30 year time-series of aerial photographs (1979 – 2010) of the natural Wadden Island coast with high-resolution monitoring data of sand volume changes and climatic parameters. We selected 20 strips of 2.5 km in length along the coast of the Wadden Islands, with a 2 km buffer between them to avoid autocorrelation. For each of these strips of coast we assessed the changes in presence and area of incipient dunes over periods of 5-6 years. Change in fore dune volume and beach width were derived from high resolution beach elevation data. Seawater level and climate data were derived from a nearby meteorological station Preliminary analysis of the first half of the dataset showed that incipient dune area was positively related to beach width, but negatively to storm intensity. In our poster we will present the whole dataset and discuss the implications of our results for future dune development and anthropogenic sand nourishment schemes.