State of the Beach/Beach Indicators/Beach Erosion

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Beach erosion and shoreline erosion are two separate issues:

  • Beach erosion - refers to the loss of sand
  • Shoreline erosion - includes the loss of land.

These are often confused. It is important to determine whether a study is reporting beach erosion and/or shoreline erosion.

All coastal states are experiencing erosion at some place along their coastline. Coastal locations where erosion is particularly severe and/or where coastal development is in imminent danger include North Topsail Beach and Nags Head in North Carolina; the west end of Dauphin Island in Alabama; Galveston, Texas; and Miami Beach, Florida[1]. Coastal erosion occurs due to a combination of factors, including sea level rise, loss of sand supply (from the damming of rivers, shoreline structures that interrupt along-shore sand transport, dredging projects, and the paving of watersheds), and geologic changes in the land. Coastal erosion typically does not pose any problems until it threatens structures or diminishes the width of recreational beaches.

Unfortunately, attraction to the coast and ocean has lured us into building coastal development too close to the sea. This often results in long-term and expensive projects, such as shoreline armoring and beach fill programs, to protect development. Surfrider believes it is important to gain a better understanding of where erosion problems exist, in order to educate local citizens about the high price of building too close to the ocean.

In this report, we present erosion information that is available from the states, ranging from engineering studies to erosion rate maps. We hope to make the public aware of areas in their states that are eroding. Raising awareness about beach erosion may lead, over time, to the reestablishment of historical sources of sand supply.

State Beach Erosion Reports

Select a state from the list below to view the Beach Erosion indicator page for that state:


  1. Pilkey, O.H. and Cooper, J.A.G., The Last Beach, Duke University Press, 2014.