Coastal storms can be one of the most destructive natural hazards. In coastal cities, they can disrupt activities and affect large part of the population, they can also cause major economic damage and often pose a threat to human lives. The problem of understanding the physical processes operating during a storm and predicting their impact is relevant for scientists and has clear societal implications. Here, we focus on some specific aspects of coastal storms, from inundation to the morphological changes along the coastline, whose understanding is becoming increasingly relevant because of the ongoing climatic changes and the always increasing population pressure over the coastline. We have tried to provide a textbook that we hope will be useful to advanced undergraduate and graduate students in variety of fields ranging from ocean sciences to geomorphology, coastal engineering and geophysics. We decided to almost split the book in two parts. In the first part, we have asked authors to provide a general overview of the present understanding of storms. In the second one we look more closely at how storms impact different natural systems. In the first part, the definition of a “storm” is addressed (Ch. 1) and detailed reviews of processes controlling hydrodynamics (Ch. 2), sediment transport (Ch. 3) and overwash processes (Ch.4) under storm conditions are provided. The reader is then ready to tackle the understanding of how storms impact a variety of geomorphic landscapes from barrier islands (Ch. 5) to cliffed coastlines (Ch.6), tidal flats (Ch. 7) and coral reefs (Ch. 8). We also decided that a specific chapter should be dedicated to the role of storm clustering (Ch. 9) and to the most up-to-date advances on the numerical modelling of storm dynamics and effects (Ch. 10). The final chapters focus on the societal aspects of storms and show how to develop frameworks to assess hazards (Ch. 11) and risk-management (Ch. 12). We have asked some of the most well-known scientists in the field to help us provide this overview on coastal storms by writing individual chapters of this contribution. On several occasions the chapters report knowledge gained by the authors during years of research on their topic of expertise, developed with financial support from research agencies in Europe, USA, Australia and New Zealand. We are hugely indebted to the authors, it has been a privilege to share their passion for research and their effort to promote science. Finally, while reading the chapters, it will appear evident that there are still many poorly understood issues that require attention. Research on this topic is still constrained by a limited understanding of the analogies between theoretical process and natural system behaviour during extreme forcing. Field measurements still remain scarce as acquisition of pre- and post-storm datasets requires quick and costly deployment of state-of-the-art equipment. We hope this book will stimulate scientists to advance knowledge on coastal storms and contribute to a better planning of measures to increase resilience of coastal communities.
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