USGS notes steady beach erosion

Feb. 24, 2011 at 9:20 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- As much as 68 percent of beaches studied along a 650-mile stretch of the eastern U.S. coast showed signs of erosion over the last 150 years, the USGS found.

Beach erosion, the U.S. Geological Survey says, depends on variations in the amount of sand, weather patterns, water levels and human activity.

The USGS said that the coast from Long Island in New York to the Virginia-North Carolina border was eroding faster than the New England coast.

"The difference in the type of coastline, with sandy areas being more vulnerable to erosion than areas with a greater concentration of rocky coasts, was the primary factor," explained Cheryl Hapke, lead author of the USGS report, in a statement.

Anne Castle, U.S. assistant secretary of the interior for water and science, said the USGS report on beach erosion helps scientists better understand natural variations and the impact human activity has on coastal lands.

Scientists at the USGS said the steady decline of beaches warranted more focus on coastal environments.

"There is increasing need for this kind of comprehensive assessment in all coastal environments to guide managed response to sea-level rise," said Hapke.

The report found, however, that some erosion was mitigated by beach restoration activity such as adding sand to the coastal areas

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