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: Pharmaceuticals and the water-fish-osprey food web

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

Stopping the leaks

30 minutes ago

When a big old cast-iron water main blows, it certainly makes for a spectacular media event.

Alpine lifelines on the brink

1 hour ago

Only one in ten Alpine rivers are healthy enough to maintain water supply and to cope with climate impacts according to a report by WWF. The publication is the first-ever comprehensive study on the condition ...

Research that holds water

2 hours ago

Water is a vulnerable resource coming under increasing pressure in many parts of the world. The Research Council of Norway is providing funding to a number of research projects seeking to solve challenges related to the supply ...

User comments : 0