Assessing Coastal Installations’ Vulnerability to Sea Level Rise

SERDP 2014 Project-of-the-Year Award for Resource Conservation and Climate Change

  • Dr. Rob L. Evans, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
    Shoreline Evolution and Coastal Resiliency at Two Military Installations: Investigating the Potential for and Impacts of Loss of Protecting Barriers

(Initially Released December 8, 2014) Understanding the potential effects of climate change on the large number of its installations located in the coastal environment has become a top DoD priority. With global mean sea levels rising and projected to continue to rise for the foreseeable future, sea-level rise in conjunction with storm surge has the potential to affect vital coastal infrastructure. Many coastal DoD installations are surrounded by coastal barriers that act as a buffer to protect estuarine ecosystems and upland areas from direct assault by ocean-derived surges and waves, particularly during large storms. 

RC_POY_SERDP

A SERDP-funded project led by Dr. Rob Evans of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution evaluated the impacts of sea-level rise, in conjunction with storms, on the barrier islands fronting Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Although these two installations both face open oceans and include coastal barriers that dynamically respond to rising seas, the geologic history, geometry, and environmental setting of each system is different, enabling a comparative look at how protective barriers will respond to sea-level rise and storms over the coming centuries. 

Dr. Evans and his team integrated a suite of models to project the geomorphic response to sea-level rise scenarios at each installation. They then examined how the geomorphic responses altered the susceptibility of each installation to storm-induced impacts. The modeling provided envelopes of different shoreline change behaviors for a range of sea-level rise scenarios and storm conditions. The study results will inform the modeling of storm impacts as environmental and barrier island conditions change, and they highlight key issues for DoD asset managers to take into account as part of climate-change vulnerability assessments. 

For this important work, Dr. Evans and his project team received the 2014 SERDP Project-of-the-Year Award for Resource Conservation and Climate Change. Project Overview 

Project Team 

  • Dr. Rob Evans, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Dr. Jeffrey Donnelly, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Dr. Andrew Ashton, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Prof. Kwok-Fai Cheung, University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • Dr. Volker Roeber, University of Hawaii at Manoa (now at Tohoku University, Japan)
  • Dr. Jorge Lorenzo-Trueba, Montclair State University
  • Dr. Andrea D. Hawkes, University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • Dr. Jessica Rodysill, University of Minnesota
  • Dr. Pradeep Nalaka Ranasinghe, University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka
  • Mr. Richard Sullivan, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Ms. Alejandra Ortiz, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

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