Shoreline Evolution and Coastal Resiliency at Three Military Installations: Investigating the Potential for and Impacts of Loss of Protecting Barriers
Sea-level rise (SLR) has the potential to affect existing coastal infrastructure. Higher sea levels inundate coastal regions, leaving them more susceptible to flooding and damage from storms. Although passive inundation is straightforward to estimate, the coast is a dynamic region and increased sea levels enhance the ability for waves to reorganize the coast, typically resulting in increased shoreline retreat by moving sediment either offshore into deeper waters or onshore by overwashing the existing coast. The projected rates of SLR over the next century far exceed those observed in the past several thousand years, and the potential exists for historically unprecedented changes and increases in hazards, including the possibility for total loss of protective natural barriers.
The objective of this project is to investigate the impacts of historically unprecedented coastal behavior, including the potential loss of coastal barriers. Impact assessments will be conducted for Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, for four SLR scenarios (0.5, 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 m at the end of the century).
This project will feature an integrated field and modeling approach to understanding the impacts of sea-level rise in the study areas. Both sites are subject to relatively frequent impacts from tropical cyclones, yet they have different tidal ranges and wave climates. In addition, the North Carolina site is also subject to frequent nor'easter storm events. By coupling a suite of models, researchers will project the geomorphic response to each SLR scenario at each installation and examine how these changes alter the susceptibility of each installation to storm-induced impacts. The modeling will consist of augmenting climatology using a simulated tropical cyclone data at the study sites along with the projected storm surges and waves associated with each event. Barrier morphology will be evolved as a result of rising sea level and storm impacts, and these results will inform modeling of storm impacts under these revised boundary conditions. The modeling efforts will be directed by focused sedimentologic and geophysical investigations at the study sites, which will reveal how the barriers have responded to past events.
Although this research is focused on two specific sites, models to be developed will capture the essential underlying processes shaping the shoreline under conditions of accelerating sea-level rise. As such, strategies will be portable to other barrier fronted locations, including large stretches of the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts. The loss of coastal barriers, which could occur if SLR rates cross an as yet unknown threshold rate, would have huge economic and societal impacts. In addition, many military installations are housed in backbarrier settings to which this work could be extended. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2013)
Symposium & Workshop
FY 2013 New Start Project Selections
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Dr. Robert Evans
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Resource Conservation and Climate Change
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