Southeastern Section - 60th Annual Meeting (23–25 March 2011)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:40 AM


CORBETT, D. Reide, Geological Sciences and the Institute for Coastal Science and Policy, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858, WALSH, J.P., Department of Geological Sciences & Institute for Coastal Science & Policy, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858 and COWART, Lisa, Department of Geological Sciences, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858,

Coastlines are constantly changing due to both natural and anthropogenic forces. Climate change and associated sea level rise will undoubtedly reshape our coasts in the near future. No longer are oceanfronts the only concern of short-term shoreline change. Shoreline dynamics along more sheltered estuaries have gained attention and data are needed to better understand and protect these coastal resources. This study uses a point-based approach to analyze parameters associated with estuarine erosion, including fetch, wave energy, elevation, and vegetation, in the Neuse River Estuary (NRE) at two contrasting scales, global (whole estuary) and local (estuary partitioned into 8 sections, based on orientation and exposure). With a mean shoreline-change rate of –0.58 m yr-1, the majority (93%) of the NRE study area is eroding. Although linear regression analysis at the regional scale did not find significant correlations between shoreline change and the parameters analyzed, trends were determined at the local scale. Erosion rates, fetch, and wave exposure increase, while elevation decreases moving down-estuary. Linear regression analysis between mean fetch and mean shoreline-change rates at the Local Scale provided a first-order approach to predict shoreline-change rates. The general trends found at the local scale highlight the importance of the spatial distribution on shoreline-change rates and parameters analyzed within a complex estuarine system and suggest shoreline composition as a first order control.