Recent shifts in coastline change and shoreline stabilization linked to storm climate change

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Since cuspate coastlines are especially sensitive to changes in wave climate, they serve as potential indicators of initial responses to changing wave conditions. Previous work demonstrates that Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout, North Carolina, which are largely unaffected by shoreline stabilization efforts, have become increasingly asymmetric over the past 30years, consistent with model predictions for coastline response to increases in Atlantic Ocean summer wave heights and resulting changes in the distribution of wave-approach angles. Historic and recent shoreline change observations for Cape Fear, North Carolina, and model simulations of coastline response to an increasingly asymmetric wave climate in the presence of beach nourishment, produce comparable differences in shoreline change rates in response to changes in wave climate. Results suggest that the effect of beach nourishment is to compensate for - and therefore to mask - natural responses to wave climate change that might otherwise be discernible in patterns of shoreline change alone. Therefore, this case study suggests that the effects of wave climate change on human-modified coastlines may be detectable in the spatial and temporal patterns of shoreline stabilization activities. Similar analyses of cuspate features in areas where the change in wave climate is less pronounced (i.e. Fishing Point, Maryland/Virginia) and where local geology appears to exert control on coastline shape (i.e.Cape Canaveral, Florida), suggest that changes in shoreline configuration that may be arising from shifting wave climate are currently limited to sandy wave-dominated coastlines where the change in wave climate has been most pronounced. However, if hurricane-generated wave heights continue to increase, large-scale shifts in patterns of erosion and accretion will likely extend beyond sensitive cuspate features as the larger-scale coastline shape comes into equilibrium with changing wave conditions.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Johnson, JM; Moore, LJ; Ells, K; Murray, AB; Adams, PN; Mackenzie, RA; Jaeger, JM

Published Date

  • April 1, 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 40 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 569 - 585

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-9837

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0197-9337

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/esp.3650

Citation Source

  • Scopus