State of the Beach/State Reports/GA/Beach Erosion

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Georgia Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access67
Water Quality66
Beach Erosion4-
Erosion Response-4
Beach Fill4-
Shoreline Structures4 6
Beach Ecology3-
Surfing Areas35
Coastal Development{{{19}}}{{{20}}}
Sea Level Rise{{{21}}}{{{22}}}

Erosion Data

Very little erosion data was found on the DNR website.

Georgia's beaches are located on the seaward side of barrier islands, of which only four are readily accessible by automobile (Tybee Island, St. Simons Island, Sea Island, and Jekyll Island). These four barrier islands contain about 19 miles of ocean beaches. Due to their automobile accessibility, these four barrier islands are also Georgia's only islands where development has substantially impacted the beach's natural sand-sharing system and dynamic sand dune fields. An example of this is on Jekyll Island, where rocks and revetments put in place to protect developments on the island's north end may have created additional erosion problems. Coastal Georgia's less accessible barrier islands have retained their dynamic sand dune fields and natural cycle of beach erosion and accretion.

Some fairly severe erosion in tidal rivers has been observed, along the Ogeechee River at seven-mile bend and along the Crooked River at Elliott's Bluff, for example. Erosion and sedimentation control is a primary consideration in the evaluation of all permit applications for activities within the jurisdiction of the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act. Shoreline erosion of beaches in coastal Georgia is of paramount concern on only about 19 miles out of the total 88 miles of beach.

The Tybee Island Beach Task Force Committee was formed to investigate new technologies in cooperation with The Ecological Services of DNR and the Savannah District Corps of Engineers, and as a result of their research, to make recommendations to the City Council regarding beach erosion control. The task force was also formed to lobby for funding at the state, county and federal levels, sometimes hosting meetings of appropriate legislative and administrative groups, and giving presentations regarding Tybee's particular beach erosion control concerns.

The Coastal and Marine Geology Program of the U.S. Geological Survey has generated a comprehensive database of digital vector shorelines and shoreline change rates for the U.S. Southeast Atlantic Coast (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina). These data were compiled as part of the U.S. Geological Survey's National Assessment of Shoreline Change Project.

The South Carolina-Georgia Coastal Erosion Study is a collaborative effort between researchers from the USGS, CCU, USC, College of Charleston, and the Sea Grant Consortium aimed at understanding the process of coastal erosion and the factors that affect erosion rates along the South Carolina and Georgia coasts. A website has been developed to present the findings of the Coastal Erosion Study to the general public including online maps of the SC/GA coasts, beach cameras, and a listing of the equipment used to collect data for the Coastal Erosion Study. The website appears to only have data for South Carolina.

Following are several recently published erosion and/or climate change studies:

The Heinz Center’s Evaluation of Erosion Hazards report mentioned below states that average erosion rates along the Georgia coastline are 1-2 ft/year.

Georgia Sea Grant is another source of information on beach erosion and coastal hazards issues in Georgia.

The Heinz Center's Evaluation of Erosion Hazards, conducted for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), studied the causes of coastal erosion hazards and proposed a variety of national and regional responses. The study, published in April 2000, concentrates on the economic impacts of erosion response policies as well as the cost of erosion itself to homeowners, businesses, and governmental entities.

A NOAA website that has graphs of sea level data for many coastal locations around the country over the last 40 to 50 years and projections into the future is Sea Levels Online.

NOAA Shoreline Website is a comprehensive guide to national shoreline data and terms and is the first site to allow vector shoreline data from NOAA and other federal agencies to be conveniently accessed and compared in one place. Supporting context is also included via frequently asked questions, common uses of shoreline data, shoreline terms, and references. Many NOAA branches and offices have a stake in developing shoreline data, but this is the first-ever NOAA Website to provide access to all NOAA shorelines, plus data from other federal agencies. The site is a culmination of efforts of NOAA and several offices within NOS (including NOAA’s Coastal Services Center, National Geodetic Survey, Office of Coast Survey, Special Projects Office, and Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management) and other federal agencies to provide coastal resource managers with accurate and useful shoreline data.

A related site launched in 2008 is NOAA Coastal Services Center's Digital Coast, which can be used to address timely coastal issues, including land use, coastal conservation, hazards, marine spatial planning, and climate change. One of the goals behind the creation of the Digital Coast was to unify groups that might not otherwise work together. This partnership network is building not only a website, but also a strong collaboration of coastal professionals intent on addressing coastal resource management needs. Website content is provided by numerous organizations, but all must meet the site’s quality and applicability standards. More recently, NOAA Coastal Services Center has developed a Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer as part of its Digital Coast website. Being able to visualize potential impacts from sea level rise is a powerful teaching and planning tool, and the Sea Level Rise Viewer brings this capability to coastal communities. A slider bar is used to show how various levels of sea level rise will impact coastal communities. Completed areas include Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Florida, and Georgia, with additional coastal counties to be added in the near future. Visuals and the accompanying data and information cover sea level rise inundation, uncertainty, flood frequency, marsh impacts, and socioeconomics.

Erosion Contact Info

Jill C. Huntington
Coastal Management Specialist
GA DNR/Coastal Management Program
One Conservation Way, Suite 300
Brunswick, GA 31520

State of the Beach Report: Georgia
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