Climate, plant response and development of dunes on barrier beaches along the U.S. east coast
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In recent years, the U.S. National Park Service has taken responsibility for eight National Seashores along the East and Gulf Coasts and has been supporting research aimed at an understanding of natural processes, human effects, and management techniques that will accomplish various goals related to public use. The importance of developing management approaches, including dune stabilization, consistent with goals of individual Seashores and in keeping with natural dune dynamics, has become increasingly clear. Current studies underway deal with variations in dune ecology along the coast and in the response of dune species to environmental variables. While certain basic processes (such as dune building or migration, inlet formation, littoral transport, and overwash) occur all along the coast, they do not do so with the same importance or frequency. The relative significance of such processes depends on the general climatic and oceanic conditions of any given area. Prevailing winds, shoreline orientation, average wave energies, sea level change, storm frequency, off shore profiles, shore configuration, and tidal range are important environmental factors which determine the relative importance of dune building, overwash, or various combinations of the two. Added to the climatic factors are the response of dune strand species to environmental forces and the distribution of adapted species along the coast. The behavior of plants adapted to dune building, overwash, or both, can be a significant factor in the development of shoreline morphology.
KeywordsImportant Environmental Factor Storm Frequency Barrier Beach Dune Stabilization National Seashore
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