COASTLINE CHANGE, COASTAL DEVELOPMENT
& COASTAL ECOSYSTEMS
Shorelines are in a constant state of evolution due to the natural processes of erosion and sediment transport. This natural dynamic coastline behavior, especially along sedimentary coasts, both impacts human attempts to maintain shoreline infrastructure (such as buildings and roads) in fixed locations over decades or longer, and is impacted by human manipulation of coastal environments. In addition, sea level rise and changing storm and wave patterns resulting from climate change will strongly affect the natural dynamics of coastal systems. And changes in shoreface morphology due to natural dynamics, human manipulation, sea-level rise, and changes in wave patterns have implications not only for the coastline, but also for back-barrier environments and ecosystems. Strategies and policies concerning coastal development and environmental protection will evolve in response to these changes.
The coastal group will investigate the long-term evolution of the coastal environment that may result from the combined interaction of climate, shoreline dynamics, ecosystem dynamics, and human development, focusing on the barrier island coastal system of the Carolinas. More specifically, the group will focus on assessing:
- how severely open-ocean coastline evolution is likely to impinge on back-barrier environments through changes to barrier-island morphology under various coastal-development practices,
- what are the most important ways that the back-barrier environments will change, and
- how these prospective consequences are likely to feed back into coastal development and management practices.
The group will improve the physical aspects of a numerical model of coastal sediment dynamics (including the effects of soft and hard structures, and shoreface lithologies, on large-scale sediment flux); use this model to investigate the effects of natural coastal dynamics, sea level rise, changing storm and wave patterns, and human manipulations on coastal morphology; and hold a series of meetings with visiting coastal scientists, social scientists, planners, and policy makers to explore the ramifications for economic evolution and ecosystem dynamics of coastal evolution under the influences of rising sea level, changing wave climates, and coastal development.
The group is composed of a coastal geologist (Brad Murray), a paleoclimatologist (Tom Crowley), a marine policy expert (Mike Orbach), a marine biologist (Joe Ramus), and an environmental economist (Marty Smith).
During the Fall 2003 term, the group is offering a course to graduate students that will explore the linkages between coastal dynamics, climatic change, and coastal development, focusing on the Virginia/North Carolina coast. For more information, please click here.
Click here for a short presentation of images and information on the impact of Hurricane Isabel on North Carolina prepared by students from the Coastal Response to Sea Level Rise class.
For more information contact:
Professor Brad Murray
ph. 919-681-5069 fax 919-684-5833
Slott, J. M., A. B. Murray, and A. Ashton, 2004, Surprising, non-local effects of shoreline stabilization efforts on coastline evolution, American Geophysical Union, Eos Trans. AGU, 85(47), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract H41C-0319.
Slott, J., Murray, A.B., Ashton, A., and Crowley, T., 2006 Coastline responses to changing storm patterns, Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L18404, doi:10.1029/2006GL027445.
Valvo, L.M., Murray, A.B., Ashton, A., 2006, How Does Underlying Geology Affect Coastline Change? An Initial Modeling Investigation, Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 111, F02025, doi: 10.1029/2005JF00340
Smith, M.D., Slott, J.M., and Murray, A.B., Beach Nourishment as a Dynamic Capital Accumulation Problem, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, in press.
Slott, J.M., Smith, M.D., and Murray, A.B., Synergies Between Adjacent Beach-Nourishing Communities in a Morpho-economic Coupled Coastline Model, Journal of Coastal Management, in press.
Slott, J.M., Murray, A.B., and Ashton, A. D, Coastline responses to human shoreline stabilization, Journal of Geophysical Research—Earth Surface, in revision.