Connecting Science and Community: Volunteer Beach Profiling to Increase Coastal Resilience

TitleConnecting Science and Community: Volunteer Beach Profiling to Increase Coastal Resilience
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsEberhardt, AL, Ward, LG, Morrison, RC, Costello, WJ, Williams, C
JournalContinental Shelf Research
Volume242(5) 104733
Date PublishedMay
Keywordscitizen science, coastal management, data quality, Emery method, Engagement

The New Hampshire (NH) Volunteer Beach Profile Monitoring Program (VBPMP) was developed as a partnership between University of New Hampshire scientists, community volunteers through the Coastal Research Volunteer program, the NH Coastal Program, and the NH Geological Survey. The program addresses multiple needs including building a robust dataset to understand beach erosion and accretion trends on the New Hampshire Atlantic Coast and developing the capacity to maintain the program over an extended period (years). Also, very important to the program is the engagement of local and regional residents in the study as partners and sharing the results to increase awareness of coastal issues to inform coastal management. Starting in December 2016, three profile stations were established at three NH beaches to train volunteers and establish the monitoring program. In January 2018, the number of profile stations was expanded to thirteen, increasing coverage to six major beaches.. Analysis of the beach profile database focuses on the period from January 2018 to October 2021. As expected, NH beaches showed seasonal variations with erosion in winter followed by extended accretional periods. The beaches were significantly eroded during a series of severe nor’easters in March 2018. For example, Hampton Beach experienced up to ~1.4 m of vertical erosion and ~30 m of berm retreat. An unexpected result from this study was the large differences in the mean elevations between the beaches based on the elevation profiles. The lower elevation beaches were far more susceptible to storm flooding, erosion, and damage to infrastructure. In addition to greater capacity for data collection toward decision-making, adopting a citizen science approach resulted in benefits to community and academic partners, such as improved methods, varied perspectives, increased knowledge about coastal processes and climate threats, connection to place, and motivation to take action.

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Refereed DesignationRefereed