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Wave Climatology and Shoreline Change for Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod.

Authors: Paul Gares*, East Carolina University
Topics: Coastal and Marine, Geomorphology
Keywords: shoreline erosion; wave events; Cape Cod
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Pervasive erosion threatens most coastal communities, particularly in the age of climate change. Shoreline erosion rates are commonly determined in order to understand the nature of the hazard. Determining historical rates of change is accomplished relatively easily given the availability of aerial imagery and the development of computer programs that determine erosion rates. However, the oceanographic conditions that produce the erosion are often unidentified which impedes the ability to predict both long and shorter-term shoreline responses. Process data shortages result from a sparse distribution of wave data collection stations and from sensor failures at the limited number of stations. In order to tie ocean processes to shoreline changes, this study characterizes those processes using a regional storm climatology assessment that identifies individual storm events.
A shoreline change data set developed for 5 zones around the distal end of Cape Cod for 2001-2016 forms the basis for the study. The process data consist of wave and wind records obtained from seven wave buoys located in the southern Gulf of Maine. The available data are used to identify extreme wave events that occurred during each shoreline change interval. Events are defined as a period of 6 hours with wave heights exceeding 1.5m, with winds blowing from a consistent direction. An overall event magnitude is determined by computing wave power based on the average wave height, wave period, and the duration of the storm. The event magnitude is then compared to shoreline change to explain the change during the measurement interval.

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