Editing a textbook sounds easy. However, ensuring all chapters are delivered at high quality and on time is a major undertaking, and the amount of effort increases nonlinearly with the scale of the book and the number of authors. Derek Jackson and Andy Short have done an exemplary job in producing a comprehensive and up-to-date book, Sandy Beach Morphodynamics. The 730-page book (excluding the author and subject indices) comprises 29 chapters with, refreshingly, almost 40% female authors (although, unfortunately, no author from Central America, Africa, or Asia).
One might be forgiven for thinking that this book represents an update to Short's 1999 book Handbook of Beach and Shoreface Morphodynamics, but the new book is far more specific due to its focus on sandy beaches. There is some unavoidable overlap with several recent reviews in peer-reviewed journals (particularly in Marine Geology and Earth Science Reviews), but it is extremely useful to see comprehensive reviews of such a range of beach processes, characteristics, and dynamics represented in a single volume.
The editors state in the introductory chapter that ‘This book is designed to provide an up-to-date overview of the state of sandy beach morphodynamic research and publication as of 2020′, and this is an accurate description of the book. The book is structured with four parts (although this is not obvious) with a wrapper, the latter consisting of a brief, introductory Chapter 1 written by the editors and outlining the history of coastal morphodynamics and a closing Chapter 29, which is an insightful and reflective chapter on the future challenges of beach management.
The first part (Chapters 2–11) is excellent, and most chapters provide comprehensive, authoritative, and in-depth reviews of hydro- and sediment-dynamic processes, including sediment characteristics, wave climate, various surf zone processes, and fundamental sediment transport processes. This section of the book would be a great accompaniment to an advanced course on nearshore processes (master of science [M.Sc.] level). The second part (Chapters 12–18) deals with different types of beach morphologies and includes reviews on beach classification models, mixed sand and gravel beaches, self-organising features, and an original chapter on beaches in embayments and bays. I feel that the relatively short Chapters 12 (cusps to capes) and 13 (surf zone rhythmic patterns) could have been combined in a single, more comprehensive chapter. The third part (Chapters 19–25) includes chapters that discuss beach dynamics over different timescales. This material is interesting because it deals with several topics that rarely receive in-depth attention in textbooks, including a review of shoreline analysis methods, seasonal beach change, extreme storm impacts and recovery, headland bypassing, beach rotation, generation of coastal sediment archives, and coastal sediment compartments. The fourth part (Chapters 26–28) consists of three methodological chapters on satellite analysis, beach monitoring, and machine learning. Regardless of the quality of these chapters (the machine learning chapter is particularly excellent), this part of the book feels out of place, and a minor reorganisation of the chapters would have worked better. For example, Chapter 3 on wave climate analysis, Chapter 17 on simulating waves nearshore (SWAN) modelling, and Chapter 19 on shoreline analysis could have been placed in this final part of the book to give more weight to the methodological aspects of sandy beach morphodynamics.
Although the book deals with numerous topics, there are some surprising omissions: coral reef beaches (clearly a subject of great relevance and interest), gravel beaches (I understand the focus of the book is on sandy beaches, but the chapter on mixed sand and gravel beaches draws largely on the pure-gravel literature), and anthropogenic influence on beach morphodynamics (with emphasis on pristine sandy beach processes). Perhaps, in my view, the most significant shortcoming is the limited attention given to morphodynamic modelling of sandy beaches. A description of the SWAN model is useful, but a discussion of the XBeach model, the most widely used numerical model for sandy beaches, would have been a welcome addition to the final part of the book. Finally, I would have expected at least one chapter on the effect of sea-level rise on beaches, because this is such an important, challenging, controversial, and pressing issue.
In summary, this is an excellent addition to any coastal academics' bookshelf and university library (real or virtual). It will be of significant interest to coastal academics at all stages of their career (doctoral students to professors). Unfortunately, the price tag is considerable and out of reach for most students; therefore, it is unlikely that the book will be used as a core text for coastal courses. However, practically all chapters and parts of the book could serve as complementary reading for various final-year undergraduate or M.Sc. courses, including physical geography, sedimentary geology, coastal engineering, oceanography, and marine science. The editors have done the coastal community a great service in producing such a comprehensive volume on sandy beach morphodynamics.