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Map to track shoreline erosion developed

US: North Carolina Division of Coastal Management, US, in collaboration with East Carolina University developed a map which will help environmentalists to track erosion rates along the state”s estuarine shorelines. The map combines and digitises thousands of aerial photographs of North Carolina”s 12,000 miles of estuarine shoreline, defined as transitional areas along the coast where fresh and salt water meet.

Michele Walker, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources said, “We did not have this information before. It”s useful for coastal management. It”s useful if you”re charged with managing the shoreline. It”s useful for letting us know what kind of development is out there. We know that in a general way, but this is a lot more specific information.”

But for coastal researchers and developers, the map”s most useful application will involve tracking the erosion rates along the state”s estuaries. The speed of shoreline erosion along the ocean is a well-documented problem in North Carolina, US, but to this point no erosion data has existed for the estuaries – largely because there were never any baseline shore measurements that could be referenced for comparison purposes.

Spencer Rogers, specialist in coastal construction and shoreline processes with NC Sea Grant said, “In the estuaries, there really hasn”t been that much comprehensive work done where you could take a snapshot of everything at one time. We don”t have erosion rates published comprehensively throughout the estuaries. This is really the first step.”

The map will be updated on a semi-regular basis, Walker noted, which will allow groups like Sea Grant to compare and contrast the health of the shoreline over time without having to physically survey the sites. That information can be useful for a number of things, including planning purposes, Rogers added.

“There is just a whole lot more estuarine shoreline, particularly in North Carolina, than oceanfront,” he said. “And in order to make decisions in land-use planning, one of the important issues is how fast things are changing.”

Source: StarNews Online