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USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program > National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards > Research > Integration of Processes over Different Spatial and Temporal Scales

National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards

Integration of Processes over Different Spatial and Temporal Scales

Coastal change is driven by processes that vary significantly in both space and time. Beach and shoreline evolution occur due to seasonal changes in summer/winter wave environments, extreme storm events, changes in natural sand supply and transport, alongshore variations in coastal geomorphology (cliffs, sandy beaches, vegetated marshes, engineered vs. non-engineered coastlines) and elevated water levels caused by long-term sea-level rise. The complexity of coastal change lies, in part, in understanding how these processes interact with each other to shape the Nation's evolving coastal landscape. As part of the National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards Project (NACCH), the USGS is actively researching methods to integrate the numerous coastal processes that drive and impact coastal change. The goal is to combine advances from the individual research tasks within the NACCH Project (storms, shoreline change and sea-level rise) using state-of-the-art observations, numerical models and model-data assimilation techniques to better understand their cumulative effect on coastal change.

Schematic describing a methodology to integrate short-term and long-term processes to generate predictions of coastal change and uncertainty around future conditions
Schematic describing a methodology to integrate short-term (e.g. measured or modeled wave forcing; left panel) and long-term (e.g. decadal shoreline positions from Ocean Beach, CA; middle panel) processes to generate predictions of coastal change and uncertainty around future conditions (right panel). The methodology follows the data assimilation approach developed in Long and Plant 2012. [larger version]



Spatial and temporal scales associated with examples of hydrodynamic and morphodynamic coastal processes.
Spatial and temporal scales associated with examples of hydrodynamic (blue) and morphodynamic (tan) coastal processes. The dashed box represents the range of scales typically relevant to coastal planners and managers. [larger version]

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