Skip to main content

Ecological concerns following Superstorm Sandy: stressor level and recreational activity levels affect perceptions of ecosystem

Abstract

Coastal habitats are vulnerable to storms, and with increasing urbanization, sea level rise, and storm frequency, some urban populations are at risk. This study examined perceptions of respondents in coastal and central New Jersey to Superstorm Sandy, including: 1) concerns about ecological resources and effects (open-ended question), 2) information sources for ecology of the coast (open-ended), and 3) ratings of a list of ecological services as a function of demographics, location (coastal, central Jersey), stressor level (power outages, high winds, flooding) and recreational rates. “Wildlife” and “fish” were the ecological concerns mentioned most often, while beaches and dunes were most often mentioned for environmental concerns. Television, radio, and web/internet were sources trusted for ecological information. The data indicate 1) stressor level was a better predictor of ratings of ecological services than geographical location, but days engaged in recreation contributed the most to variations in ratings, 2) ecological services were rated the highest by respondents with the highest stressor levels, and by those from the coast, compared to others, 3) Caucasians rated ecological services higher than all others, and 4) recreational rates were highest for coastal respondents, and ratings for ecological services increased with recreational rates. Only 20 % of respondents listed specific ecological services as one of their three most important environmental concerns. These data will be useful for increasing preparedness, enhancing educational strategies for shore protection, and providing managers and public policy makers with data essential to developing resiliency strategies.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

References

  • Arp W III, Kenny C (1996) Black environmentalism in the local community context. Environ Behav 28:267–282

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barnegat Bay Beat (BBB) (2012) Special Report: Sandy-a record setting storm. Barnegat Bay Partnership Quart. Publ. 7 pp

  • Bartlett G (2011) Joint fact finding and stakeholder consensus building at the Altamont Wind Resource Area in California. In: Burger J (ed) Stakeholders and scientists: achieving implementable solutions to energy and environmental issues. Springer, New York, pp 255–282

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Brackney M, McAndrew FT (2001) Ecological World views and receptivity to different types of arguments for preserving endangered species. J Enviro Educ 33:17–20

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bronfman N, Cifuentes L (2003) Risk perception in a developing country: the case of Chili. Risk Anal 23:1271–1285

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Bullard RD (1994) Unequal protection: environmental justice and communities. Sierra Club Books, California

    Google Scholar 

  • Burak S, Dogan E, Gazioglu C (2004) Impact of urbanization and tourism on coastal environment. Ocean Coast Manag 47:515–527

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Burger J (1998) Environmental attitudes and perceptions of future land use at the Savannah River Site: are there racial differences? J Toxicol Environ Health 53:255–262

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Burger J (2001) Stewardship and future land use at a Department of Energy site: does self-interest determine ratings? J Toxicol Environ Health 63:383–395

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Burger J (2003a) Assessing perceptions about ecosystem health and restoration option in three East Coast estuaries. Environ Monit Assess 83:145–162

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Burger J (2003b) Consistency among methods of assessing concerns about the Los Alamos National Laboratory. J Toxicol Environ Health 66:199–210

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Burger J (2004) Fish consumption advisories and why people fish in an urban estuary. J Risk Res 7:461–479

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Burger J (2005) Assessing environmental attitudes and concerns about a contaminated site in a densely populate suburban environment. Environ Monit Assess 101:147–165

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Burger J (2011) Valuation of environmental quality and eco-cultural attributes in Northwestern Idaho: native Americans are more concerned than Caucasians. Environ Res 111:136–142

    Article  PubMed Central  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Burger J, Gochfeld M (2014) Health concerns and perceptions of central and coastal New Jersey residents within 100 days of Superstorm Sandy. Sci Tot Enviro 481:611–618

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Burger J, Greenberg M (2006) Ethnic differences in ecological concerns: spanish-speaking Hispanics are more concerned than others. Environ Res 102:36–45

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Burger J, Roush DE, Ramon R, Gochfeld M (2000) Risk concerns, land use, stewardship, and the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental laboratory: attitudes of the Shoshone-Bannock and other American Indians. Environ Res 83:298–310

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Burger J, Sanchez J, Roush D, Gochfeld M (2001) Risk perception, future land use and stewardship: comparison of attitudes about Hanford Site and Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. J Environ Manag 61:265–280

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Burger J, Myers O, Boring CS, Dixon C, Lord C, Ramos R, Shukla S, Gochfeld M (2004) Perceptions of general environmental problems, willingness to expend federal funds on these problems, and concerns regarding the Los Alamos National Laboratory: Hispanics are more concerned than others. Environ Res 102:36–45

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Burger J, Gochfeld M, Jeitner C, Pittfield T, Donio M (2013) Trusted information sources used during and after Superstorm Sandy: TV and radio were used more often than social media. J Toxicol Environ Health 76:1138–1150

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Casagrande DG (1996) A value based policy approach: the case of an urban salt marsh. Coastal Manag 24:327–337

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Choi AS, Fielding JS (2012) Environmental attitudes as WTP predictors: a case study involving endangered species. Ecol Econ 89:24–32

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Crosset K, Cultiton T, Wiley P, Goodspeed T (2013) Population trends along the coastal United States 1980–2008. http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/programs/mb/pdfs/coastal.pop.trends.complete.pdf Accessed 14 May 2013

  • Day JW Jr, Boesch DF, Clairain EJ, Kemp GP, Laksk SB, Mitsch WJ, Orth K, Mashrqui H, Reed DJ, Shabman L, Simenstad CA, Steever BJ, Twilley RR, Watson CC, Wells JT, Whigham DF (2007) Restoration of the Mississippi Delta: lessons from hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Sci 315:1679–1684

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Donnelly JP, Roll S, Wengren M, Butler J, Lederer R, Webb T III (2001) Sedimentary evidence of intense hurricane strikes from New Jersey. Geol 29:615–618

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eisenman DP, Cordasco KM, Asch R, Golden JF, Glik D (2007) Disaster planning and risk communication with vulnerable communities: lessons from Hurricane Katrina. Am J Publ Health Suppl. 1; 97:S109-115

  • Faust BB, Smardon RC (2001) Introduction and overview: environmental knowledge, rights, and ethics: co-managing with communities. Environ Sci Policy 4:147–151

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Feagin RA, Lozeda BML, Ravens TM, Moller I, Yeager KM, Baird AH (2009) Does vegetation prevent wave erosion of salt marsh edges. PNAS 106:10109–10113

    Article  PubMed Central  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Freedman A (2013) Heeding Sandy’s lessons, before the next big storm. Climate Central. –www.climatecentral.org/news/four-lay-lessons-learned-from-hurricane-sandu-15928. Accessed 17 June 2013

  • Frey JH, Oishi SM (1995) How to conduct interviews by telephone and in person. The Survey Kit, Vol. 4. Sage, California

  • Gallup Organization. 2003. Environment. http://gallup.com/poll/topics/environment.asp. Accessed 4 May 2009

  • Gallup Organization. 2013. Environment. http://gallup.com/poll/1615/environment.aspx?. Accessed August 2013

  • Genovese E, Przyluski V (2013) Storm surge disaster risk management: the Xynthia case study in France. J Risk Res 16:825–841

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Greenberg M (2004) Is public support for environmental protection decreasing? Environ Health Perspect 112:121–125

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Greenberg M (2005) Concern about the environment: how much difference do race and ethnicity make? Environ Health Persepect 113:369–374

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Greenberg M, Lowrie K, Burger J, Powers CW, Gochfeld M, Mayer H (2007) Nuclear waste and public worries: public perceptions of the United States major nuclear weapons sites. Human Ecol Rev 14:1–12

    Google Scholar 

  • Harmon D, Kilgore BM, Vietzke GE (2004) Protecting our diverse heritage: the role of parks, protected areas and cultural sites. George Wright Soc, Michigan

    Google Scholar 

  • Houser C, Hapke C, Hamilton S (2008) Controls on coastal dune morphology, shoreline erosion and barrier island response to extreme storms. Geomorphol 100:223–240

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Huerta EE, Macario E (1999) Communicating health risk to ethnic groups: reaching Hispanics as a case study. J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr 35:23–26

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ingle C, Leung Y, Monz C, Bauman H (2004) Monitoring visitor impacts in coastal national parks: a review of techniques. In: Harmon D, Kilgore BM, Vietzke GE (eds) Protecting our diverse heritage: the role of parks, protected areas and cultural sites. George Wright Soc, Michigan, pp 228–233

    Google Scholar 

  • IPCC (2007) Climate change 2007: synthesis report. Contribution of working groups I, II and III to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Geneva, Switzerland: IPPC, 104 pgs.

  • IPCC (2007) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. Geneva, Switzerland: IPPC, 28 pps.

  • Jentoft S (2000) Commentary - co.-managing the coastal zone: is the task too complex? Ocean Coast Manag 43:527–535

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kharin VV, Zwiers FW, Zhang X, Hegerl GC (2007) Changes in temperature and precipitation extremes in the IPCC ensemble of global coupled simulations. J Clim 20:1419–1444

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kirschenbaum AA, Mariani M, Van Gulijk C, Rapaport C, Lubasz S (2012) Airports at risk: the impact of information sources on security decisions. J Transp Secur 5:187–197

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Klinenberg E (2013) Adaptation. New Yorker Jan 7, 2013:32.

  • Koutrakis E, Sapounidis A, Marzetti S, Marin V, Roussel S, Martino S, Fabiano M, Paoli C, Rey-Valette H, Povh D, Malvarez CG (2011) ICZM and coastal defense perception by beach users: lessons from the Mediterranean coastal area. Ocean Coast Manag 54:821–830

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kratovil C (2012) Drinking water problems cause evacuation of every dorm in New Brunswick. New Brunswick Today. Available: http://newbrunswicktoday.com/article/drinking-water-concerns-cause-rutgers-pull-students-out-new-brunswick Accessed 17 June 2013

  • Kunreuther H, Easterling D, Desvousges W, Slovic P (1990) Public attitudes toward siting a high-level nuclear waste repository in Nevada. Risk Anal 10:469–484

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lane LK, Charles-Guzman K, Wheeler Z, Abid N, Graber N, Matte T (2013) Health effects of coastal storms and flooding in urban areas: a review and vulnerability assessment. J Environ Publ Health 2013:1–13

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Marin V, Palmisani IR, Dursi R, Fabiano M (2000) Users’ perception analysis for sustainable beach management in Italy. Ocean Coast Manag 52:268–277

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McGranaham G, Balk D, Anderson B (2007) The rising tide: assessing the risks of climate change and human settlements in low elevation coastal zones. Environ Urbaniz 19:17–37

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McLaughlin KA, Fairbank JA, Gruber MJ, Jones RT, Osofsky JD, Pfefferbaum B, Sampson NE, Kessler RC (2010) Trends in serious emotional disturbance among youths exposed to Hurricane Katrina. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psy 49:990–1000

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Miller DL, Thetford M, Yager L (2001) Evaluation of sand fence and vegetation for dune building following overwash by hurricane Opal on Santa Rosa Island, Florida. J Coastal Res 17:936–948

    Google Scholar 

  • Myatt-Bell LB, Scrimshaw MD, Lester JN, Potts JS (2002) Public perception of managed realignment: Brancaster West Marsh, UK

  • National Research Council (NRC) (2008) Panel on public participation in environmental assessment and decision-making. National Academy of Sciences, Washington DC

    Google Scholar 

  • Neria Y, Shultz JM (2013) Mental health effects of Hurricane Sandy: characteristics, potential aftermath, and response. JAMA 308:2571–2572

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC2) (2013) Climate risk information 2013. NYC Mayor’s office, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Newton A, Carruthers TJB, Icely J (2012) The coastal snydromes and hotspots on the coast. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 96:39–47

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration). 2012. Communities: the U.S. population living in coastal watershed counties. http://stateofthecoast.noaa.gov/population/welcome.html. Accessed 3 April 2012

  • Nordstrom KF, Lotstein EL (1989) Perspectives on resource use of dynamic coastal dunes. Geograph Rev 79:1–12

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nordstrom KF, Mitteager WA (2001) Perceptions of the value of natural and restored beach and dune characteristics by high school students in New Jersey, USA. Ocean Coastal Manag 44:545–559

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • North CS, Oliver J, Pandya A (2012) Examining a comprehensive model of disaster-related posttraumatic stress disorder in systematically studied survivors of 10 disasters. Am J Publ Health 102:40–48

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nyman JA, Crosier CR, DeLaune RD (1995) Roles and patterns of hurricane sedimentation in an estuarine marsh landscape. Estuar. Coastal Shelf Sci 40:665–679

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Pffaf LG (2012) Sea change: the post-Sandy rebuilding is about to begin. New Jersey Monthly 2012:45–51

    Google Scholar 

  • Plant NG, Stockdon HF, Sallenger AH Jr, Turco MJ, East JW, Taylor AA, Shaffer WA (2010) Forecasting hurricane impact on coastal topography. Eos 91:65–72

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pries AJ, Miller DL, Branch LC (2008) Identification of structural features that influence storm-related dune erosion along a barrier island ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico. J Coastal Res 24:168–176

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Priskin J (2003) Tourist perceptions of degradation caused by coastal nature-based recreation. Environ Manag 32:189–204

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Roca E, Villares M, Orgego MI (2009) Assessing public perceptions on beach quality according to beach users’ profile: a case study in the Costa Brava (Spain). Tourism Manag 30:598–607

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Roessler TX, Wells JT (2001) Beach changes along eastern Bogue Banks, North Carolina, resulting from the 1996 hurricane season. J Coast Res 17:964–975

    Google Scholar 

  • Rogers SM Jr (1990) Designing for storm surge and wave damage in coastal buildings. Coast Envineer Conf, Netherlands

    Google Scholar 

  • Russo S, Sterl A (2012) Global changes in seasonal means and extremes of precipitation from daily climate model data. J Geophysic Res 117:DOI 108

  • Sallenger AH Jr (2000) Storm impact scale for barrier islands. J Coastal Res 16:890–895

    Google Scholar 

  • Sedovski I, Newton A, Dennison WC (2012) Megacities in the coastal zone: using a driver-pressure-state-impact-response framework to address complex environmental problems. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 96:48–59

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shear MK, McLaughlin KA, Ghesquiere A, Gruber MJ, Sampson NA, Kessler RC (2011) Complicated grief associated with hurricane Katrina. Depres Anxiety 28:648–57

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Statistical Analysis Systems (SAS) (2005) Statistical Analysis. Cary, NC: SAS

  • Stockdon HF, Sallenger AH Jr, Holman RA, Howd PA (2007) A simple model for the spatially-variable coastal response to hurricanes. Mar Geol 238:1–20

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Thom RM, Williams GW, Diefenderfer HL (2005) Balancing the need to develop coastal areas with the desire for an ecologically functioning coastal environment: Is net ecosystem improvement possible? Restor Ecol 13:193–203

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Trumbo C, Lueck M, Marlatt H, Peek L (2011) The effect of proximity to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on subsequent hurricane outlook and optimistic bias. Risk Anal 31:1907–1918

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • US. Geological Survey (USGS) (2010) Impacts and predictions of coastal change during hurricanes. Fact Sheet 2010–3012. US Dept of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

  • US. Geological Survey (USGS) (2013) Hurricane Sandy: updated assessment of potential coastal-change impacts. http://coastal.er.usgs.gov/hurricanes/sandy/coastal-change/initialassessment.php Accessed 22 July 2013

Download references

Acknowledgments

We particularly thank the respondents who gave willingly of their time to be interviewed, and the many town officials, agency personnel, commercial owners and others who gave permission to interview people in their facilities, as well as C. Jeitner, T. Pittfield and M. Donio for help with the interviews and graphics. This research was funded by a pilot grant from NIEHS (P30ES005022). This paper represents the views of the author, and not the funding agency.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Joanna Burger.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Burger, J. Ecological concerns following Superstorm Sandy: stressor level and recreational activity levels affect perceptions of ecosystem. Urban Ecosyst 18, 553–575 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-014-0412-x

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-014-0412-x

Keywords

  • Environmental concerns
  • Ecological concerns
  • Ecological services
  • Superstorm Sandy
  • Climate change
  • Preparedness
  • Resiliency
  • Information sources