Geomorphology of high-latitude coastal dunes: A review

M. H. Ruz, P. A. Hesp

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

    21 Citations (Scopus)


    The purpose of this review is to assess if there are any specific processes and morphologies distinguishing coastal dunes developed in cold-climate conditions, in order to illustrate how climate can exert a control on coastal dune morphologies. In the Arctic, availability of sand supply and the duration of winter conditions are limiting factors for the development of large coastal dunes. They are small in size, and embryo dunes including nebkha are the dominant and often only coastal dune type. In milder subarctic settings, characterized by a longer surficial ice-free season, a greater variety of coastal dunes are found, mainly foredunes, blowouts and parabolic dunes. In subarctic areas, as along the SE coast of Hudson Bay, niveo-aeolian processes actively affect coastal dune development. These processes do not generally imprint permanent morphologies, although some distinctive sedimentary structures owing to the melting of snow are observed. The coastal dunes of the arctic regions differ from the dunes of subarctic and temperate regions mainly because of their limited spatial and morphological development. Extreme climatic conditions (low precipitation, extreme cold), and very limited vegetation growing season, combined with low sediment supply, explain the fact that only embryo dunes develop in arctic environments.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)199-212
    Number of pages14
    JournalGeological Society Special Publication
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2014


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