Coastal Environments and Global Change

Climate change and coastal erosion
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The system supports valuable commercial and recreational shellfish and finfish fisheries, an aquaculture industry, and a broad range of marine ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration in sea grasses and wildlife habitat. The barrier islands, which include the iconic Outer Banks, harbor tens of billions of dollars of coastal real estate. This housing development, along with coastal infrastructure and coastal amenities, supports a vibrant tourist economy for beach visitation, boating, recreational fishing, watersports, and wildlife viewing.

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First, climate scientists predict a changing frequency and intensity of tropical storms Bender et al. Storms are pulse disturbances that are temporary and episodic and have acute, instantaneous effects on the coastal zone, most notably wind and flood damage associated with storm surge and rainfall. Storms can also punch holes in thin stretches of barrier islands. In , Hurricane Isabel opened up a new inlet on the Outer Banks and wiped out a section of the main highway. While new inlets have obvious consequences for the tourism economy and resident populations, they also influence water exchange between the sounds and the ocean, which affects estuarine habitat and ecosystem services.

Although storms are important for coastal climate adaptation, climate change will also create press disturbances that are long-term and continuous, including ocean warming, acidification, sea level rise, and changing wave climates. Ocean warming changes the distributions of fish stocks Burrows et al. Black sea bass is both commercially and recreationally significant for North Carolina, and recent empirical work attributes stock movement to warming Bell et al. Ocean acidification threatens a broad range of calcifying organisms, including clams and oysters Hofmann et al. Along back-barrier islands and estuarine waterfronts, sea level rise contributes to inundation that may drown marsh vegetation and associated habitat for fish and waterfowl.

The wave climate i. This drives coastal erosion and accretion in the short run and the emergence of large-scale coastline features, such as the cuspate shape of the Carolinas, in the long run Ashton, Murray, Arnoult As we will discuss, adaptation measures—for example, jetties, seawalls, beach nourishment, and inlet stabilization—interact with alongshore sediment transport to alter patterns of erosion and accretion.

Developed coastlines are best understood as tightly coupled human—natural systems with two-way feedbacks between natural resource systems and economic decisions McNamara and Werner ; Murray et al. Coastal resources are stocks of natural capital that provide value through a measureable flow of services to humans Scott Erosion and accretion of beaches and dunes, inlet formation, and growth or loss of coral reefs, sea grasses, mangroves, and wetlands represent changes in natural capital stocks. To the extent that humans influence or directly control these processes, coastal management is a multidimensional capital accumulation problem that can be addressed through a geoeconomic model similar to bioeconomic fisheries models with environmental forcing Smith ; Gopalakrishnan et al.

In this section we review the current literature on modeling coastal geoeconomic systems and highlight future research needs. Notes: In fisheries and coastline systems, there are independent resource dynamics, human behavioral dynamics, two-way feedbacks between the resource and human systems two-way arrow , and climate forcing that influences the resource system solid arrow and may influence the human system directly striped arrow. Climate forcing can also influence the nature of feedbacks between the human and natural systems empty arrow.

Capital-theoretic models of human—environment interactions can explain observed patterns of coastal change and adaptation responses. Many sandy coastline communities rebuild eroded beaches using an intervention known as beach nourishment, whereby sand is dredged from another location and spread on the eroded beach.

Beach nourishment is not the only tool available for coastal adaptation, nor is it relevant to all coastlines. Coastal managers have numerous tools at their disposal, including seawalls and defensive structures, land use restrictions, rolling easements, and retreat from the shoreline. These tools are often used in combination. For example, it is common in the U. Mid-Atlantic region to build a seawall and to nourish beaches on the seaward side of the wall. We focus here on nourishment because it is the prevalent policy along sandy coastlines in the United States and directly influences geophysical processes that affect coastal change.

Beach nourishment is carried out periodically rather than continuously because it has high fixed costs e. The periodic nature of beach nourishment makes this intervention analogous to the well-known Faustmann problem in forest economics. In the forest problem, timber volume evolves according to a biological growth function and the forester chooses a time to clear-cut and reseed. If the problem is deterministic and all economic parameters are fixed, the optimal cutting interval is fixed Samuelson In the case of beach nourishment, the beach begins at some initial width, erodes according to geophysical coastal processes, and the coastal planner decides when to renourish the beach to augment width.

Under conditions similar to the Faustmann forestry problem, the optimal nourishment interval is fixed Smith et al. A coupled geoeconomic model is essential for understanding beach nourishment and other interventions because human interventions influence the erosion rate or other coastal changes. The newly placed sand diffuses as the shoreline returns to its equilibrium profile, thereby accelerating erosion immediately after nourishment. This means that more frequent nourishments increase the average erosion rate and sand usage.

Accelerated erosion in a nourished beach has interesting implications for optimal nourishment intervals, which can increase or decrease in response to higher sand costs. In other words, sand demand could slope upward for some range of sand costs Smith et al. Wave action spreads the nourishment sand alongshore, smoothing the bump quickly exponentially as the shoreline returns to equilibrium. Wave action redistributes nourishment sand to restore the equilibrium profile. Source: Adapted from Smith et al.

In the beach nourishment problem, an upward-sloping demand for nourishment sand reflects the interaction of the intensive and extensive margins i. Similarly, in the forestry problem, a price increase can cause the timber supply to slope downward because it shortens the rotation length of harvest, which decreases the average flow of timber to the market. Timber markets adjust at the extensive margin; that is, higher prices increase the profitability of having land in forestry such that the long-run supply of timber slopes upward Samuelson For the coastline, the relevant extensive margin is the width of the initial beach.

Allowing this extensive margin to adjust inward eliminates the possibility of an upward-sloping input demand for sand Smith et al. However, this also raises questions about political feasibility— as sand becomes more expensive, will communities maintain narrower beaches even as they intervene to nourish them more often? Choices about which coastal adaptation interventions to pursue reflect other extensive margins of climate adaptation i. Early work on coastal climate adaptation focused exclusively on the extensive margin of retreat Yohe, Neumann, and Ameden Implicitly, there was no intensive margin i.

By analogy, climate adaptation in agriculture posits an intensive margin along which crop yields respond to temperature change and an extensive margin along which crop choice changes Mendelsohn, Nordhaus, and Shaw Thus the outer envelope of the temperature—yield—response curve, which allows crop substitution to occur, reflects the cost or benefit of warming on agriculture. In the case of coastal adaptation, the optimal erosion control strategy may evolve as climate changes. In North Carolina, where the dominant strategy is beach nourishment, if increased climate variability made nourishment unsustainable, communities would need to shift to defensive structures or retreat from the coast altogether Slott et al.

Executive Summary

Press i. Sea level rise, ocean warming, and changes in wave climate are press disturbances. In fisheries management, ocean warming is an often-discussed press disturbance that in some cases may induce poleward migrations of fish stocks Burrows et al. Fishermen may adapt by shifting toward stocks migrating into an area and away from stocks migrating out i. Along coastlines, press disturbances affect the rate of continuous, long-term erosion that communities face. Although there are exceptions because of unique coastline shapes and configurations , in general we expect press disturbances to increase erosion, the frequency of beach nourishment, and the need for other climate adaptation strategies.

In contrast, pulse disturbances are episodic events such as storms. In shoreline management, increasing storm frequency can decrease the intensity of nourishment, which contrasts with the response to long-term erosion from sea level rise McNamara et al. The analogy with forest management is the stochastic arrival of forest fires, where a greater frequency of forest fires decreases the forest rotation Reed That is, the threat of fire puts the forest stand at risk and creates an incentive to cut timber earlier.

Similarly, in the case of coastline management, more frequent storms that threaten to destroy nourishment projects actually delay nourishment because the expected value of the nourishment project is lower. Optimal beach nourishment models with exogenous geophysical processes are well understood and often analytically tractable Smith et al.

In particular, Smith et al. When the rate of sea level rise increases, however, there is no steady state and traditional resource economics models are less informative in predicting expected patterns of coastal change. Similarly, if climate change causes a discrete change in the rate of storm arrivals, this change can be analyzed using standard models in resource economics McNamara et al. In this case, bioeconomic models in fisheries management see Carson et al. Further research is needed on nonautonomous coastline systems and the management of these systems when there are press and pulse disturbances.

Coastal management is inherently spatial and, unlike other resources e. Furthermore, coastal adaptation policy at one location creates spatial externalities that affect resource stocks at other locations along the shoreline Smith et al. For example, if nourishment in one location affects the erosion rate at other locations, the choice of where to nourish at one point in time will affect decisions at all other locations and in all future time periods. However, spatial dynamic models pose analytical challenges because the optimal policy, which requires solving a system of partial differential equations Brock and Xepapadeas , depends on spatial geometry and both spatial and temporal boundary conditions Smith, Sanchirico and Wilen Modeling of geoeconomic systems shows that localized shoreline management decisions that do not account for spatial dynamic feedbacks will result in suboptimal outcomes relative to coordinated management , with significant disparity in the distribution of benefits from adaptation Williams et al.

In fact, localized management can destabilize an entire coastline Lazarus et al. Thus, effective adaptation to climate change requires a coordinated coastal policy and spatially targeted mechanisms to address these externalities Jin, Ashton, and Hoagland ; Gopalakrishnan et al. Although the geoeconomic modeling literature has produced insights about the spatial dynamics of simple i. Spatial externalities are not the only way that individual communities affect each other in the coastal zone; economically and geologically viable deposits of nourishment sand are common-pool resources accessed by these communities, which means they can also impose externalities on each other through the depletion of common-pool sand deposits.

To build out an eroding beach, sand is dredged from offshore sand reserves or nearshore inlet sand deposits. Because offshore sand reserves are typically harder to access and the deposition of high-quality sediment on the ocean floor is very slow , they are generally considered to be nonrenewable resources. Sand deposits from inlets and river channels are replenished more frequently and thus these sources are effectively renewable resources.

Climate Change and the Jersey Shore: Impacts on Coastal Communities, Ecosystems and Economies

To illustrate the growing stress on common-pool sand resources, we examine empirical trends in shoreline stabilization policy in North Carolina, which indicate a steep growth in annual nourishment activity. To examine factors that affect the rate of sand extraction in North Carolina, we estimate the effect of the source of nourishment sand i. Access to multiple sand deposits, however, reduces the amount of sand that is dredged. In fact, the volume of sand dredged per nourishment project is almost 70 percent lower from an inlet sand deposit than from offshore dredging.

This likely reflects a trade-off between the fixed and variable costs of beach nourishment Smith et al. Although the cost per cubic yard of sand is not significantly different across sand sources, offshore dredging involves higher fixed costs equipment, infrastructure, etc.

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Thus we find fewer but larger nourishment projects that rely on offshore reserves. Although sand dredged from offshore accounts for less than 10 percent of nourishment projects, the cumulative volume is nearly one-third of the volume of sand from inlet sources see figure 4. These patterns in the extraction of common-pool sand reserves indicate how physical coastline features, such as proximity to inlets, can shape policy decisions concerning the intensity and location of sand resource depletion.

Numerical models that simulate coastline change in North Carolina show that coastal response to climate change depends critically on the interactions between property values and erosion rates. Increasing sand costs can accelerate the depletion of a finite sand reservoir when towns with high property values are located in regions with higher erosion rates McNamara, Murray, and Smith For models of geoeconomic systems under climate change to be realistic, they must include empirically grounded parameters.

Land use and economic development are influenced by the balance of amenities and risks, each of which are particularly acute in the coastal zone.

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Routledge, London. Here, the combination of oceanic waves and strong tidal currents created highly dynamic branched structures Fig. French policy places a duty on local authorities to develop plans by , identifying the areas at serious risk of coastal flooding or erosion, what needs to be relocated and how including sources of funding. This dataset was analyzed for changes in water presence along more than 2 million virtual transects see Methods section and SI. Ex ante willingness to pay with supply and demand uncertainty: implications for valuing a sea turtle protection programme.

Although there has been a push in the environmental economics literature to estimate reliable measures of the value of environmental assets, applications to dynamic environmental attributes, such as coastal resource stocks, have been limited because of the complexity of these systems Smith ; Gopalakrishnan et al. In this section we review the empirical literature on coastline management and climate-related risks and identify research that can help to inform policy analysis of climate adaptation.

Coupled models of shoreline change predict the level of natural capital stocks e. Thus we focus first on empirical estimates of the value of beach amenities. Because housing markets capitalize many coastal amenities, studies generally use hedonic price regression models 6 Rosen to estimate the marginal implicit value of coastal amenities. These empirical analyses have consistently found that beach width Parsons and Powell ; Landry, Keeler, and Kriesel , beach views Bin, Kruse, and Landry ; Bin et al.

Empirical studies have also shown that shoreline stabilization can lead to reverse causation; instead of beach quality influencing housing prices, beach nourishment can be more heavily utilized in locations with higher housing values Gopalakrishnan et al. This means that when the avoidance of property damage plays a primary role in nourishment decisions, beach width can be endogenous in hedonic price models.

The interpretation of the marginal price of beach width depends on beach dynamics e. Empirical studies of the North Carolina coast show that accounting for beach dynamics such as continuous erosion due to sea level rise dramatically affects estimates of the marginal value of beach width, both in towns with nourishment Gopalakrishnan et al. Housing markets respond both to differences in risk and to the information that is provided about the presence or severity of natural hazards. Coastal erosion presents a risk of capital loss that is not insurable, and property values have been found to decline with erosion risk Kriesel, Randall, and Lichtkoppler ; Dorfman, Keeler, and Kriesel ; Jin et al.

Other risks related to storm and floods are insurable, and empirical studies, often using location in a flood zone as the source of risk information, have found housing values decline with flood risk MacDonald, Murdoch, and White ; Bin and Polasky The flood risk discount is generally consistent with the discounted value of flood insurance payments Bin, Kruse, and Landry Quasi-experimental analyses have also been used to estimate the impact of natural hazards, relying on the occurrence of disasters to infer the effect of risk on housing values Hallstrom and Smith ; Carbone, Hallstrom, and Smith ; Atreya, Ferreira, and Kriesel ; Bin and Landry These studies found that natural disasters can enhance the price discounts associated with location in a high-hazard zone but these price differentials dissipate over time in the absence of disasters Atreya, Ferreira, and Kriesel ; Bin and Landry The disclosure of information identifying high-hazard areas e.

The empirical literature also finds that housing markets capitalize the value of hazard mitigation measures, such as windstorm resistance measures Simmons, Kruse, and Smith and increased elevation of housing units McKenzie and Levendis Moreover, price premiums for mitigation measures may increase following storms McKenzie and Levendis Similar to the disclosure of risk information, the inspection and verification of structural mitigation measures has been found to increase the value of housing in high-hazard zones Gatzlaff et al.

Thus the literature suggests that by facilitating the disclosure of natural hazards or the verification of structural protection measures, public information programs can play a critical role in coastal adaptation to climate change. Coastal ecosystems also contribute nonmarket and market values that are not directly capitalized into coastal property values. For simplicity, these values are often excluded from coupled coastline models but should generally be included if the total economic value of coastal ecosystems is being considered in an analysis of the benefits and costs of coastal adaptation.

While a comprehensive review of the value and management of coastal ecosystem services is beyond the scope of this article, 10 we can illustrate the wide-ranging nature of coastal climate adaptation with some examples of how climate risks affect the provision of ecosystem services. These values, in turn, could augment coupled models of coastal adaptation. Commercial fishing generates market values that are tied to both coastal ecosystems and resource management.

These empirical examples highlight the interactions of biological resource management with coastline management in the presence of climate uncertainties.

Generic framework for meso-scale assessment of climate change hazards in coastal environments

The combined effects of human development and reduced river flow would degrade water quality conditions, negatively affecting fisheries and human health through such changes as increased presence of harmful algal blooms and accumulation of contaminants in animals and plants.

Increased rainfall and resultant freshwater runoff into an estuary would increase stratification of the water column, leading to depleted oxygen concentrations in estuaries with excess nutrients. It would also change the pattern of freshwater runoff in coastal plain watersheds, such as along the southern Atlantic coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. In those regions where water resources are managed by humans, the effects of increased flooding would depend on how managers controlled regional hydrology.

Wind speed and direction influence production of fish and invertebrate species, such as in regions of upwelling along the U. West Coast. If upwelling is slowed by changes in wind and temperature, phytoplankton production could be lowered. Where upwelling increases as a result of climate change, productivity should also increase.

Introduction

In some coastal regions, alongshore wind stress and buoyancy-driven density differences help produce water movements that transport larval fish and invertebrates to nurseries, such as in estuaries. Climate-related changes in these circulation patterns that hinder such transport might alter the species composition of coastal ecosystems. Increases in the severity of coastal storms and storm surges would have serious implications for the well-being of fishery and aquaculture industries, as has been demonstrated by the effects of recent intense hurricanes along the U.

East Coast. Most ecosystems can recover rapidly from hurricanes, but the anthropogenic alteration of coastal habitats may increase the ecological damage associated with more severe storms. The immense area and the modest extent of our knowledge of the open ocean hamper predictions of how ocean systems will respond to climate change.

Nevertheless, it is clear that increased temperature or freshwater input to the upper layers of the ocean results in increased density stratification, which affects ocean productivity. Because productivity varies regionally, simple extrapolation to particular U. Climate-driven changes in the intensity or timing of any of these phenomena could lead to marked changes in water column mixing and stratification and, ultimately, a reorganization of the ecosystems involved, for better or worse. Increased CO2 concentrations lower ocean pH, which in turn changes ocean carbonate chemistry.

This may have negative effects on the myriad planktonic organisms that use calcium carbonate to build their skeletons. Some of these organisms appear to play important roles in ocean-atmosphere interactions, but we cannot yet predict any effects that might arise from their diminishment. Finally, coral reefs, which are already threatened by multiple stressors such as abusive fishing practices, pollution, increased disease outbreaks, and invasive species, would also be at risk from changes in seawater chemistry, temperature increase, and sea-level rise.

Lower ocean pH and changed carbonate chemistry would decrease the calcification necessary for building coral reef material. Increased warming would lead to coral bleaching, the breakdown in the symbiotic relationship between the coral animal and the unicellular algae zooxanthellae that live within coral tissues and allow corals to thrive in nutrient-poor waters and to secrete massive calcium carbonate accumulations. If sea levels were to rise at a pace faster than corals could build their reefs upward, eventually light conditions would be too low for the zooxanthellae to continue photosynthesis.

On reefs near low-lying coastal areas, sea-level rise would likely increase coastal erosion rates, thus degrading water quality and reducing light penetration necessary for photosynthesis and increasing sedimentation that smothers and stresses coral animals. He completed his Ph. As such he has carried out numerous consultancy projects relating to economic regeneration, tourism planning, cultural regeneration and sustainability and has published a number of industry and academic articles, reports and conference papers.

To this end he has travelled widely and has contributed to international conferences in Europe, North America, Asia and Australasia and spent two years as a visiting research fellow at the University of Brunei. Professor Phillips' research expertise includes coastal processes, morphological change and adaptation to climate change and sea level rise, and this has informed his engagement in the policy arena. He has given many key note speeches, presented at many major international conferences and evaluated various international and national coastal research projects. Consultancy contracts include beach monitoring for the development of the Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay, assessing beach processes and evolution at Fairbourne one of the case studies in this book , beach replenishment issues, and techniques to monitor underwater sediment movement to inform beach management.

Funded interdisciplinary research projects have included adaptation strategies in response to climate change and underwater sensor networks. He has successfully supervised many PhD students, and as well as research students in his own University, advises PhD students for overseas universities.

Coastal Processes Research Group (CPRG) – books and reports

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Close Find out more. You are here: Home Bookshop Book. Main Description Building upon the book Disappearing Destinations Jones and Phillips and its conclusion that promoted the need to recognize problems, meet expectations and manage solutions Global Climate Change and Coastal Tourism explores current threats to, and consequences of, climate change on existing tourism coastal destinations. Table of Contents.

Scott and S. Nurse, D. Edwards and D. G Cooper and S.