South Atlantic Water Science Center (SAWSC)

Coastal Science

Our Nation's coastlines are in constant flux through the processes of erosion and deposition. Hurricanes and storms can have a severe impact on the Atlantic coast states.

The impacts to population, infrastructure, and habitat vary geographically, depending on shoreline type, whether sandy beach, rocky shore, sea cliff, barrier island or wetland. As coastal populations continue to grow, the need for a consistent assessment of coastal storm impact has become urgent. The USGS aims to equip coastal communities with the science and tools needed to enhance their own resilience, helping safeguard the strength of our Nation as a whole.

Our list of coastal science projects and topics are listed below (View the list of archived projects for Coastal Science).


Hint: Use the "Select Topic" filter box below to fine-tune your search for coastal science in SAWSC.

Filter Total Items: 8
Date published: May 20, 2017
Status: Active

South Atlantic Water Science Center Storm-Tide Monitoring

Preventing flood hazards, such as the hurricane induced storm surge, from becoming human disasters requires an understanding of the relative risks floods pose to specific communities and knowledge of the processes by which flood waters rise, converge, and abate. Historically, hurricane-induced storm tides have been documented through measurement of high-water marks left on structures or...

Date published: May 18, 2017

Coastal Carolinas Focus Area Water Availability and Use Study

As one of several national “Focus Area Studies” in the Department of Interior’s WaterSMART initiative, USGS South Atlantic Water Science Center is undertaking a 3-year study of water availability and use to meet competing societal and ecological needs in Southeastern Atlantic Coastal Basins of the Carolinas. The Coastal Carolinas study area includes lower parts of the Pee Dee/Waccamaw River...

Date published: March 18, 2017
Status: Active

Development of a Coastal Salinity Index

A critical aspect of the uniqueness of coastal drought is the effects on the salinity dynamics of creeks, rivers, and estuaries. The location of the freshwater–saltwater interface along the coast is an important factor in the ecological and socioeconomic dynamics of coastal communities. Salinity is a critical response...

Contacts: Matthew D Petkewich, Paul A Conrads, Lisa S. Darby
Date published: December 22, 2016

Selected Roadway High-Water Mark Data from Hurricane Joaquin Flooding, October 2015

As part of the statewide response to the flooding, the USGS and S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) conducted a cooperative study to collect high-water mark (HWM) data at 50 selected road crossings.

The HWM elevations and descriptive data have been posted on the USGS Short-Term Network (STN). The STN is a national-...

Date published: December 13, 2016
Status: Completed

Update for the South Carolina Atlantic Coastal Plain Groundwater Availability Model

Groundwater use from the Atlantic Coastal Plain aquifers in South Carolina has increased during the past 70 years as the population has increased along with demands for municipal, industrial, and agricultural water needs. While South Carolina works to increase development of water supplies in response to the rapid population growth, the State is facing a number of unanswered questions...

Contacts: Bruce Campbell
Date published: November 9, 2016
Status: Active

Mid-Currituck Bridge Water Quality, Currituck Sound, North Carolina

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is planning to make transportation improvements in the Currituck Sound area by constructing a three-lane bridge from U.S. Highway 158 just south of Coinjock, North Carolina, to State Highway 12 on the Outer Banks just south of Corolla, North Carolina. From Aug 2011 to early 2018, the USGS will be collecting regular water-quality samples as well...

Date published: October 26, 2016

Hydrologic Assessment of New Hanover County, NC Aquifers

New Hanover County is one of the most populated areas along the North Carolina coastline and the population is projected to expand by 25 percent over the next 20 years. County managers and town planners are concerned about escalating demand for groundwater within the county and recognize the importance of high-quality drinking water to meet the demands of a growing population.


Date published: September 2, 2016
Status: Completed

Albemarle Sound, NC -- National Monitoring Network Demonstration Site

The Albemarle Sound region was selected in 2012 as one of two demonstration sites in the Nation to test and improve the design of the National Water Quality Monitoring Council’s National Monitoring Network (NMN) for U.S. Coastal Waters and Tributaries. The goal of the NMN for U.S. Coastal Waters and Tributaries is to provide information about the health of our oceans, coastal ecosystems, and...

Contacts: Sharon A Fitzgerald, PhD, Michelle Moorman