Beachfront nourishment decisions: The "sucker-free rider" problem

Apr 23, 2013

Coastal communities and beachfront property owners often respond to erosion by adding sand to restore local beaches. But beach nourishment alters shoreline dynamics, not only at the replenishment site but also in adjacent coastal regions, as natural coastal processes shift sand from one location to another. The result is that "sucker" communities pay to build up their beaches, but that replenishment also helps protect the coastlines of "free rider" communities. The sucker-free rider situation is an example of a classic problem studied in economics and game theory frameworks.

Using of the dynamics of coastlines similar to those along much of the U.S. East Coast, coupled with a model of locally economically optimal nourishment decisions, Williams et al. find that interactions between the erosion processes and economic and physical feedbacks do tend to lead to the sucker-free rider situation. Large inequalities in property values can result, especially as the cost of sand for nourishment rises.

The results indicate that decentralized management of beach nourishment, in which individuals or communities make locally optimal decisions without taking into account the effects on others may lead to a use of resources that is not optimal over a wider area.

Explore further: Underwater elephants

More information: Coupled Economic-Coastline Modeling with Suckers and Free Riders, Journal of Geophysical Research-Earth Surface, doi: 10.1002/jgrf.20066, 2013 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jgrf.20066/abstract

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Iconic beach resorts may not survive sea level rises

Jan 17, 2013

A leading coastal scientist has warned that some of the world's best known beach resorts may not survive projected sea level rises and that problems caused by changing sea levels are compounded by a lack ...

Geotimes: The impending coastal crisis

Mar 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.

Recommended for you

Big data confirms climate extremes are here to stay

56 minutes ago

In a paper published online today in the journal Scientific Reports, published by Nature, Northeastern researchers Evan Kodra and Auroop Ganguly found that while global temperature is indeed increasing, so too is the variab ...

Peru's carbon quantified: Economic and conservation boon

1 hour ago

Today scientists unveiled the first high-resolution map of the carbon stocks stored on land throughout the entire country of PerĂº. The new and improved methodology used to make the map marks a sea change ...

How might climate change affect our food supply?

1 hour ago

It's no easy question to answer, but prudence demands that we try. Thus, Microsoft and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have teamed up to tackle "food resilience," one of several themes ...

Groundwater is safe in potential N.Y. fracking area

2 hours ago

Two Cornell hydrologists have completed a thorough groundwater examination of drinking water in a potential hydraulic fracturing area in New York's Southern Tier. They determined that drinking water in potable ...

User comments : 0