Coastal Erosion and Shoreline Change

Authored by: Matthew L. Stutz

Encyclopedia of Natural Resources

Print publication date:  July  2014
Online publication date:  June  2014

Print ISBN: 9781439852583
eBook ISBN: 9781351043847
Adobe ISBN:


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This entry broadly addresses the causes of and responses to coastal erosion and shoreline change. Three major causes of shoreline change are examined in detail: sea level change, storms and waves, and sediment supply and transport. The history of both postglacial and recent global sea level change is discussed, and factors that influence relative sea level change are also fully considered. Short-term and long-term impacts of storms, including dune recession, cliff and bluff erosion, and overwash are described. Lastly, sediment transport related to longshore drift and tidal dynamics are included. Three major responses to coastal erosion and their impacts are then described: hard stabilization, soft stabilization, and relocation. Sea walls, jetties, and groins are described as the most common forms of hard coastal stabilization. Beach nourishment is covered as the major form of soft stabilization. Finally, examples of structural and community-scale relocation efforts are included. The entry concludes with a projection of what shoreline change may look like in the future, specifically in the context of climate change.

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