Beach Recovery - Coastal System Change at Fire Island, New York

Beach Elevation Profiles

Beach Elevation Profiles

Elevation profiles were surveyed one day prior to Hurricane Sandy, immediately after, and resurveyed through 2017. 

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Beach Change Envelope

Beach Change Envelope

The BCE represents the portion of the upper beach that is likely to undergo direct storm wave impacts and respond in the subsequent days, weeks, and months after the events. 

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Research

Research on the various componenets of the Fire Island system is being conducted at multiple USGS Centers and across projects.

Beach Profiles

Beach Change Envelope

Predicting Future Beach Change

Science Center Objects

Alongshore features, such as the position of the dune crest and shoreline, are typically used to measure storm impacts and recovery. Impacts from Hurricane Sandy were so substantial to these features, however, that USGS researchers were provided a unique opportunity to develop new techniques to capture and monitor both storm impacts and recovery.

At Fire Island, a stable upper beach region is particularly important for vehicle traffic, recreational use, and wildlife habitat. Beach profiles from fifteen locations along Fire Island were used to track changes in the width and height of the beach. The Beach Change Envelope (BCE) is the portion of the upper beach profile where storm impacts and post-storm recovery are most easily observed under 1–5 years. By tracking changes in beach height and width, we use the BCE to characterize the magnitude of storm impacts and degree of recovery through time.

Beach Profiles

As part of the assessment of beach and dune morphologic change associated with Hurricane Sandy and the continuing efforts to track post-Sandy recovery, differential global positioning system (DGPS) elevation data are collected along 15 shore-perpendicular profiles extending from just inland of the crest of dune to the low-tide swash zone.  

Beach Change Envelope

Given the unique challenges in quantifying the extensive, yet variable impacts of Hurricane Sandy at Fire Island, we used a time series of beach profile data at Fire Island, New York to define a new contour-based morphologic change metric, the Beach Change Envelope (BCE).

Predicting Future Beach Change

The modeling approach, a Bayesian network, uses statistical methods to estimate probabilities of predicted outcomes based on existing observations. Bayesian networks are easily updated with new data or observations making this approach ideal for use in coastal systems that experience rapid and frequent changes.