The USGS participated in a 2-day virtual workshop focusing on research needs at Gulf Islands National Seashore

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The objective of the workshop was to identify research and data needs to support a regional sediment budget, and opportunities for collaboration on studies to address these needs. 

A thin, low-lying sandy island stretches diagonally across the sea; the sky has puffy white clouds to the left.

Restoration of East Ship Island, Gulf Islands National Seashore, 2018. East Ship Island is seen in the background with construction extending west toward West Ship Island (not shown). The breach between East and West Ship Island was widened by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. As part of the Mississippi Coastal Improvement Project, the USACE reconnected the two islands using over 5 million cubic meters of sand excavated from offshore. The USGS collaborated with the USACE to identify potential sediment resources for restoration and to develop a restoration adaptive management plan. (Photo courtesy of USACE.)

The coordination team included scientists from the USGS, NCSU, NOAA, and NPS. USGS attendees included James Flocks (SPCMSC), Davina Passeri (SPCMSC), Timothy Nelson (SPCMSC), Rangley Mickey (SPCMSC), Simeon Yurek (WARC), and Sara Zeigler (SPCMSC).

The barrier islands of the Gulf Islands National Seashore (GUIS) are undergoing erosion and land loss due to storm impacts, reduced sand supply, and alterations to sediment transport pathways. To characterize the changing environment, it is necessary to identify what scientific data is available, what are the knowledge gaps, and what resources are available to address need. The intent of the workshop was to bring science experts and stakeholders together to develop an outline of available information and data needs. The workshop began with an overview of GUIS provided by Dan Brown, the Park superintendent, that addressed concerns about island resiliency, cultural and ecologic sensitivity, and inlet and sediment resource management. Following this overview, scientists from federal and state agencies provided 5 presentations of ongoing or recent research related to the northern Gulf of Mexico barrier island system and identification of science-based needs and priorities. USGS presenters included James Flocks (Determining Sediment Management Strategies to Most Effectively Protect GUIS Resources) and Davina Passeri (Modeling Assessments of Future Coastal Evolution for the Gulf Islands National Seashore)

The second day of the workshop was devoted to in-depth discussions on issues related to shoreline erosion, sediment transport, physical and cultural resources, and inlet management. The discussions led to the development of a prioritized thematic list of research needs intended to address concerns, fill in data gaps, and inform park management.

The workshop was held May 27-28, 2020, and was sponsored by the Southeast Climate Adaptation Center and SPCMSC, and was facilitated by North Carolina State University (NCSU) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).