Data Release

Shoreline Change Analysis for the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Mississippi Alabama: 1848 to 2017

By Joseph F. Terrano,1 Kathryn E.L. Smith,2 Jonathan Pitchford,3 Julius McIlwain,3 and Michael Archer 3

1 University of South Florida, contracted to the U.S. Geological Survey
2 U.S. Geological Survey
3 Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Mississippi


Throughout the northern Gulf of Mexico, marsh shorelines are eroding due to wave attack, sea-level rise and subsidence. Shoreline erosion results in net marsh loss when transgression rates at the marsh-water edge exceed upland-marsh migration. Coastal marsh serves important ecologic and economic functions, such as providing habitat, absorbing floodwaters and storm surges, and coastal carbon sequestration. Therefore, the rate and processes of shoreline change are important considerations when evaluating the overall health and vulnerability of coastal marshes to future scenarios of sea-level rise, climate change, and global carbon budget.

The data presented here include compiled vectorized marsh shorelines and transects with shoreline change rates for the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Mississippi and Alabama from 1848 to 2017. Shoreline change was calculated from digital vector shorelines acquired from historical topographic sheets, aerial photography, or global positioning system (GPS) data. Shoreline change rates are estimated from the shoreline position of multiple dated datasets utilizing the intersection with a perpendicular transect to the congregate shoreline. These analyses were conducted using the Analyzing Movement Boundaries Using R (AMBUR) package. For additional information on AMBUR, see Jackson, C.W., Jr., 2010. Basic User Guide for the AMBUR package for R, version 1.0a.

Note: This data release was versioned on February 25, 2019. Please see the Suggested Citation section for details.


File Name and Description Metadata (XML format) Metadata (text format) Download File
Shorelines for Grand Bay from 1848 to 2017 (.shp)
(11.5 MB)
Transects with rates-of-change for Grand Bay from 1848 to 2017 (.shp)
(521 KB)

Satellite map showing study area, with graphics depicting loss rates and labels overlain to display data
Figure 1. Long-term (1848–2017) shoreline change results using GIS and GPS shorelines.

Suggested Citation

Terrano, J.F., Smith, K.E.L., Pitchford, J., McIlwain, J., and Archer, M., 2019, Shoreline change analysis for the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Mississippi Alabama—1848 to 2017 (ver. 2.0, February 2019): U.S. Geological Survey data release,

First posted September 26, 2018
Revised February 25, 2019, ver. 2.0

Version History 2.0