From the Editor’s Desk:
Changes and challenges, on many fronts
Lesley C. Ewing, Ph.D.
Two years and two hurricanes later: Did the dunes recover?
Jean T. Ellis, Ph.D., Mayra A. Román-Rivera, Ph.D., Michelle E. Harris, and Peter A. Terezkiewicz
In many places along the U.S. East and Gulf of Mexico coasts, barrier islands are the first line of defense against extreme weather events threatening our coastlines. The trademark of these barrier islands are sand dunes that are intricately bound, from a sedimentary perspective, to the beach. Coastal storms, such as Hurricanes Matthew (2016), Irma and Maria (2017), and Florence (2018) have devastating impacts on these environments. This study investigated the volumetric changes of an anthropogenic and controlled beach-dune system on Isle of Palms, South Carolina, for approximately one year following Hurricanes Matthew (2016) and Irma (2017). This research reveals that these systems did not recover. The average loss of sand at the beach was -15.5% (nv = -0.89), whereas the dunes gained an average of 13.3% (nv = 0.79), when compared to the already diminished post-storm volumes. When considering the pre-Hurricane Irma to pre-Hurricane Florence temporal period, the recovery percentages for the anthropogenic and control dunes was -15.5% and -40.1%, respectively, suggesting a net loss of sand. Cumulative storms, such as those experienced on the coast of South Carolina and many other coasts, pose a substantial threat to the long-term viability of coastal dune systems. However, recovery at the control site in the form of incipient foredune growth is promising. This paper concludes with a list of influencing factors to dune recovery.
Adapting to shoreline retreat: Finding a path forward
Ryan Anderson, Kiki Patsch, Charles Lester, and Gary Griggs
Global sea level is rising at an increasing rate and communities and cities around the planet are in the way. While we know the historic and recent rates of sea level rise, projections for the future are difficult due to political, economic, and social unknowns, as well as uncertainties in how the vast ice sheets and glaciers of Antarctica and Greenland will respond to continued warming of the atmosphere and the oceans. It is clear, however, that sea level will continue to rise for centuries due to the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere as well as those we continue to produce. A rising ocean leads to a retreating coastline, whether gradual inundation of low-lying shoreline areas or increased erosion of cliffs, bluffs, and dunes. Coastal armoring and beach nourishment have been the historical approaches to address coastal or shoreline erosion, but these are laden with economic and environmental costs, often short-lived, and have significant impacts on beaches; their approval by permitting agencies is also becoming more difficult, at least in California (Griggs and Patsch 2019) but also in a number of other states. Coastal communities and cities are already experiencing the impacts of rising seas and more will experience these impacts in the decades ahead. Many cities in California are beginning to discuss, consider, and plan for how they will adapt to higher sea levels, but not without controversy, especially concerning managed retreat. However, over the long run, they all will respond through relocation or retreat of some sort, whether managed or unmanaged. Sea level rise will not stop at 2050 or 2100. Effective adaptation will require a collaborative process involving many stakeholders, including coastal home and business owners, local governments, and state permitting agencies in order to develop and implement policies, plans and pathways for deliberate adaptation to the inevitable future. For many reasons, this is a complex problem with no easy or inexpensive solutions, but the sooner the science is understood and all parties are engaged, the sooner plans can be developed with clear trigger points for adaptive action, ultimately relocation or retreat.
An ASBPA White Paper:
National coastal management challenges and needs
Nicole Elko, Ph.D., and Tiffany Roberts Briggs, Ph.D.
In partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resources Program (USGS CMHRP) and the U.S. Coastal Research Program (USCRP), the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) has identified coastal stakeholders’ top coastal management challenges. Informed by two annual surveys, a multiple-choice online poll was conducted in 2019 to evaluate stakeholders’ most pressing problems and needs, including those they felt most ill-equipped to deal with in their day-to-day duties and which tools they most need to address these challenges. The survey also explored where users find technical information and what is missing. From these results, USGS CMHRP, USCRP, ASBPA, and other partners aim to identify research needs that will inform appropriate investments in useful science, tools, and resources to address today’s most pressing coastal challenges. The 15-question survey yielded 134 complete responses with an 80% completion rate from coastal stakeholders such as local community representatives and their industry consultants, state and federal agency representatives, and academics. Respondents from the East, Gulf, West, and Great Lakes coasts, as well as Alaska and Hawaii, were represented. Overall, the prioritized coastal management challenges identified by the survey were:
A careful, systematic, and interdisciplinary approach should direct efforts to identify specific research needed to tackle these challenges. A notable shift in priorities from erosion to water-related challenges was recorded from respondents with organizations initially formed for beachfront management. In addition, affiliation-specific and regional responses varied, such as Floridians concern more with harmful algal blooms than any other human and ecosystem health related challenge. The most common need for additional coastal management tools and strategies related to adaptive coastal management to maintain community resilience and continuous storm barriers (dunes, structures), as the top long-term and extreme event needs, respectively. In response to questions about missing information that agencies can provide, respondents frequently mentioned up-to-date data on coastal systems and solutions to challenges as more important than additional tools.
Will beach nourishment be enough to hold back the sea?
Comments on Houston, J., 2020. “Beach nourishment versus sea level rise on Florida’s coasts.” Shore & Beach, 88(2), 3-13.
Randall W. Parkinson and Danielle E. Ogurcak
Reply to comments by R.W. Parkinson and D.E. Ogurcak on Houston (2020)
James R. Houston
Tips for a superior coastal natural infrastructure project
Shannon Cunniff, Douglas Janiec, Cptn. Alek Modjeski, and Jennifer Mattei, Ph.D.
ASPBA announced the winners of the 2020 Best Restored Shores (BRS) award on 14 September 2020. This award has three goals: First, to boost recognition of the importance of shoreline restoration for building coastal resilience to climate change; second, to acknowledge the teams that put the hard work necessary to complete a project that delivers; and, third, to advance others’ capabilities and success. In this article, winners of the BRS award and the BRS Award Committee share their thoughts based on their project experience. Follow this advice and you too can implement a great coastal natural infrastructure solution and, perhaps, find your team on the receiving end of this award.