Geotimes: The impending coastal crisis

March 12, 2008

Coastlines are the most dynamic feature on the planet. In the March issue, Geotimes magazine looks into the risks of increased development along our coastlines and what that means for erosion, flooding and future development.

As coastal communities grow, so does the call for human-made structures to prevent local beach erosion. But what do these structures mean for the overall health of surrounding coastal areas?

Geotimes follows the erosion patterns of the southern shore of Long Island, starting with its recovery from the 1938 Long Island New England Hurricane. The noticeable change in landscape after the Category-3 hurricane caused a demand for structures that would stabilize the remaining inlets. While the structures did help the situation locally, erosion increased elsewhere, creating a need for more engineered structures.

What happens to the land when normal erosional patterns are altered? Geotimes studies the effects nor’easters that struck Long Island in the early 1990s, decades after bulkheads and jetties were put in place. Did the residents learn from past mistakes when rebuilding after the storms of the ‘90s?

Source: American Geological Institute

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