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St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center > Barrier Island and Estuarine Wetland Physical Change Assessment > Overview

Hurricane Sandy Response - Barrier Island and Estuarine Wetland Physical Change Assessment

Overview

Overwash along the Virginia barrier island coastline
Overwash along the Virginia barrier island coastline changed the estuarine shoreline and buried wetland marshes and channels. (Yellow arrow marks a common reference feature in each photo.) [larger version]

The Nation's coast is fringed by beaches, dunes, barrier islands, wetlands, and bluffs. These natural coastal barriers provide critical benefits and services, and can mitigate the impact of storms, erosion, and sea-level rise on our coastal communities. In late October 2012, waves and storm surge resulting from Hurricane Sandy affected the U.S. coastline from North Carolina to New York and Massachusetts, including Assateague Island, Maryland, and the Delmarva coastal system. The storm impacts included changes in topography, coastal morphology and geology, hydrology, environmental quality, and ecosystems (Buxton and others).

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, lidar surveys from North Carolina to New York documented storm impacts to coastal barriers, providing a baseline to assess vulnerability of the reconfigured coast. However, a thorough investigation of the topography and geology of the affected coastal systems is essential to provide a complete picture of the post-storm barrier landscape that will help us to understand the potential vulnerability to future storms and also to inform decisions on recovery and rebuilding.

The U.S. Geological Survey is engaged in a variety of research activities that aim to understand coastal processes and vulnerability of barrier island wetland coastlines. The Barrier Island Wetlands Physical Change project will conduct research tasks that will be completed in 2014-2015 include the following:

The results of this study will provide baseline scientific information regarding the natural resiliency of the coastal system that will inform Federal and other resource managers as they make decisions regarding restoration and resource management projects. In addition, project results will provide coastal planners and managers with similar information for addressing infrastructure concerns along developed coastline.

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Page Last Modified: December 05, 2016 @ 11:24 AM (JSG)