Collecting Ecological Data and Models of Living Shoreline Restoration Projects

Science Center Objects

Developing effective living shoreline restoration projects that can withstand hurricanes and storms requires a better understanding of how restoration structures reduce the impact of wave and current energy on marsh edges in estuaries and bays. Without this knowledge, existing living shoreline projects and adaptive management measures are more likely to fail, decreasing the possibility for long-term ecological benefits.

Fig. 1. Location of the living shoreline projects.

Fig. 1. Location of the living shoreline projects.

Science Issue and Relevance: Developing effective living shoreline restoration projects that can withstand hurricanes and storms requires a better understanding of how restoration structures reduce the impact of wave and current energy on marsh edges in estuaries and bays. Without this knowledge, existing living shoreline projects and adaptive management measures are more likely to fail, decreasing the possibility for long-term ecological benefits. More importantly, it may not be possible to design and implement living shoreline structures capable of providing maximum ecological benefit to the coastal and estuarine ecosystems they are intended to protect.

Methodology for Addressing the Issue: Waves, currents, bathymetry, sediment deposition, and marsh vegetation properties that affect wave and current dynamics will be monitored during the winters of 2017 – 2022 at three living shoreline restoration project areas funded by DOI-Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Program: Gandy’s Beach (New Jersey), Chincoteague National Wildlife Reserve (Virginia), and Fog Point at Glenn Martin National Wildlife Refuge (Maryland). Monitoring data will then be used to model winds, waves, hydrodynamics, sediment transport, and coastal shoreline morphology at the three living shoreline project areas, as well as Shinnecock Reservation’s Shoreline Habitats (New York). Numerical experiments on the optimal design of living shoreline structures under various wave energy and sea level rise scenarios will be explored.

Fig.2. Living shoreline structures (oyster castles) in Gandy’s Beach project.

Fig.2. Living shoreline structures (oyster castles) in Gandy’s Beach project.

Future Steps: The field data collected by this study, in conjunction with data of other ecological resilience metrics, will be used to assess the effectiveness and resilience of these living shoreline restoration projects. The data will be incorporated into models to predict spatial and temporal marsh and shoreline morphological changes under future storm events.

Related project(s) or product(s) (as applicable): Predicting the Long-term Impact of Hurricane Sandy on Spatial Patterns of Wetland Morphology in Salt Marshes of Jamaica Bay, New York.