Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 11:20 AM
CHARACTER, STRUCTURES AND CHANGE OF THE ESTUARINE SHORELINE OF NORTH CAROLINA
The State of North Carolina has an extensive coastline, and the vast majority lies along estuarine water bodies (~16,000 km or 10,000 miles) compared to oceanfront areas (~480 km or 300 miles). Erosion along the Outer Banks and other ocean beaches is widely recognized, but changes in the estuarine shoreline are also significant as a result of wave attack, storm currents and sea-level rise. Research over the last decade documents considerable shoreline erosion (>0.5 m or 1.5 ft per year) along large stretches of estuarine coast, particularly in expansive fetch areas, e.g., in the Albemarle-Pamlico estuary. Another process dramatically altering the shore is human alteration to stabilize and/or reconfigure the coastline for development. Thousands of structures and many kilometers of shoreline have been impacted. To document and quantify changes, East Carolina University researchers are working in collaboration with NC Division of Coastal Management scientists to map and characterize the entire coast of North Carolina. A majority of the shoreline (13 of the 20 coastal counties) already has digitized and attributed, and the remaining counties will be completed in the next year. This impressive dataset provides a much needed snapshot of the current coastal configuration. Comparison with historical or future georeferenced shoreline information can give key insight into ongoing changes resulting from many coastal processes.