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Mapping Shoreline Variability of Two Barrier Island Segments Along the Florida Coast


Recent projections of global climate change necessitate improved methodologies that quantify shoreline variability. Updated analyses of shoreline movement provide important information that can aid and inform likely intervention policies. This paper uses the Analyzing Moving Boundaries Using R (AMBUR) technique to evaluate shoreline change trends over the time period 1856 to 2015. Special emphasis was placed on recent rates of change, during the 1994 to 2015 period of active storm conditions. Small segments, on the order of tens of kilometers, along two sandy barrier island regions on Florida’s Gulf and Atlantic coasts were chosen for this study. The overall average rate of change over the 159-year period along Little St. George Island was − 0.62 ± 0.12 m/year, with approximately 65% of shoreline segments eroding and 35% advancing. During periods of storm clustering (1994–2015), retreat rates along portions of this Gulf coast barrier accelerated to − 5.49 ± 1.4 m/year. Along the northern portion of Merritt Island on Florida’s Atlantic coast, the overall mean rate of change was 0.22 ± 0.08 m/year, indicative of a shoreline in a state of relative dynamic equilibrium. In direct contrast with the Gulf coast shoreline segment, the majority of transects (65%) evaluated along the oceanfront of Merritt Island over the long term displayed a seaward advance. Results indicate that episodes of clustered storm activity with fairly quick return intervals generally produce dramatic morphological alteration of the coast and can delay natural beach recovery. Additionally, the data show that tidal inlet dynamics, shoreline orientation, along with engineering projects, act over a variety of spatial and temporal scales to influence shoreline evolution. Further, the trends of shoreline movement observed in this study indicate that nearshore bathymetry—the presence of shoals—wields some influence on the behavior of local segments of the shoreline.

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Correspondence to Ravi D. Sankar.

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Sankar, R.D., Donoghue, J.F. & Kish, S.A. Mapping Shoreline Variability of Two Barrier Island Segments Along the Florida Coast. Estuaries and Coasts 41, 2191–2211 (2018).

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