UNC Coastal Studies Institute To Host “Science On The Sound” Lecture On Living Shorelines On November 30, 2017
The UNC Coastal Studies Institute (UNC CSI) is hosting a lecture on shoreline erosion control strategies as part of its “Science on the Sound” lecture series. This series, held monthly, highlights information on coastal topics and issues in northeast North Carolina. This month, the program will feature Dr. Rachel Gittman, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at East Carolina University (ECU). Dr. Gittman’s presentation, entitled “Are We Engineering Away Our Natural Defenses Along North Carolina’s Coast?”, will highlight a variety of erosion control strategies, both natural and engineered, and the benefits each bring to coastal systems. The program will be held at 6:00PM on Thursday, November 30 at the UNC Coastal Studies Institute located at 850 NC 345 in Wanchese, NC. The presentation is free and the public is welcomed and encouraged to attend.
The demand for coastal defense strategies against storms has increased with population growth and development along coastlines. Shoreline hardening is a practice designed to prevent erosion and loss of property, but that also has the potential to alter coastal ecosystem function. Dr. Gittman’s research focuses on understanding the extent, drivers, and ecological consequences of shoreline hardening (e.g., bulkheads), as well as evaluating the functionality of alternative shore protection approaches, such as living shorelines. Results from multi-year field studies and waterfront resident surveys in North Carolina suggest that living shorelines, promote higher diversity and abundances of marine organisms, and are also more resilient to erosion and damage from major storm events than bulkheads. Dr. Gittman published a paper in a journal from the Ecological Society of American where she writes:
Rapid population growth and coastal development are primary drivers of marine habitat degradation. Although shoreline hardening or armoring (the addition of concrete structures such as seawalls, jetties, and groins), a byproduct of development, can accelerate erosion and loss of beaches and tidal wetlands, it is a common practice globally. Here, we provide the first estimate of shoreline hardening along US Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico coasts and predict where future armoring may result in tidal wetland loss if coastal management practices remain unchanged. Our analysis indicates that 22 842 km of continental US shoreline – approximately 14% of the total US coastline – has been armored. We also consider how socioeconomic and physical factors relate to the pervasiveness of shoreline armoring and show that housing density, gross domestic product, storms, and wave height are positively correlated with hardening. Over 50% of South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts are fringed with tidal wetlands that could be threatened by future hardening, based on projected population growth, storm frequency, and an absence of coastal development restrictions. A copy of the paper and graphics can be seen at http://www.northeastern.edu/gittman/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Gittman-et-al.-2015-Frontiers.pdf
More information can be read in an article in https://www.nccoast.org/project/advancing-living-shorelines-implementation/
This program will be streamed live at http://coastalstudiesinstitute.org/outreach/live-streaming
and the online viewing audience will be able to ask the presenter questions via an online chat room.