Coastal Processes and Human Response to Shoreline Change

Coastlines are influenced by a complex set of physical processes. In addition, human response to coastal change is a result of complicated and often interlocking decisions. This project will develop a set of integrated models to better understand the dynamics of developed shoreline evolution under different geologic settings, climatological variables such as wave and storm influence, development scenarios, legal and regulatory regimes, and strategies for coastal protection or response. The models of the long-term dynamic interactions between development and coastal processes will be useful to project how developed coastlines may respond to future alterations due to sea-level rise, erosion, and inundation that are caused by changing climate conditions. Two examples from Massachusetts and the New Jersey coasts are selected as test cases since both have long histories of development and attempts at coastal protection that span different geologic and storm climate settings. The project will develop an ongoing short course that will inform coastal land managers of the major findings and applications.

This project will yield new tools and information to improve knowledge of the alongshore-coupled interactions among the geological framework, geomorphic processes, the economics of human shoreline protection measures, and how developed shoreline dynamics may change due to climate-driven exogenous effects, such as sea-level rise. Model results will be integrated within a realistic policy framework to offer guidance on economically efficient and sustainable ways to manage coastline resources at the scale of the littoral cell. The work will advance the state of the art in morphodynamic models of coastal evolution in response to climate change effects and the integration of geologic models with those of economic consequences and human behavior. The multi-disciplinary project team includes geomorphologists, policy and economic scientists, and legal experts who have an established history of successful collaboration with integrated geo-economic models of coastal evolution involving human interventions.



Lead Investigator: 
New Jersey and Massachusetts coasts