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11 January 2019
Sand dunes on coastal barrier islands buffer the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts from oncoming hurricanes. Every year, millions of public and private dollars fund the restoration of these barrier islands, but managers often focus on the recovery of smaller sand dunes and aim at making them bigger, for better storm protection. But new research presented at the 2018 AGU Fall Meeting last month finds sand dunes on these barrier islands don’t all recover at the same rate. Small dunes go back to becoming small dunes; large dunes recover to be large dunes; and they don’t typically grow larger than they were before the storm struck.