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Coastal Impacts

Woods Hole Sea Grant Newsletter

June 2018

From the Director

With the summer upon us, many locals and frequent visitors to the Cape will be returning to their favorite beaches to find them quite different than last year. Perhaps there are fewer parking spaces or the beach access has been relocated. The past winter was one of the worst in recent years in terms of storm activity and the associated erosion of our coastline. According to the Orleans natural resources manager, about 60 feet of Nauset Beach was lost in just three days, which was five times the average erosion rate of 12 feet per year. As a result of these accelerating changes, in the coming years we will be increasingly asking ourselves the question: retreat or reinforce? In reality, it most likely won’t be an either/or decision, though it’s certain that our town and regional planning bodies will need unbiased, science-based advice on how to manage the inevitable changes to our shifting shorelines.

In this edition of our e-newsletter, we highlight two examples of how Woods Hole Sea Grant can play a role. On the research front, WHOI scientist Jeff Donnelly and co-workers are reconstructing past storm activity on Cape Cod from clues stored in the sediments of coastal salt ponds. The idea here is that we can learn from history as a means to prepare for the future. From our staff, Extension Agents Greg Berman and Shannon Jarbeau surveyed post storm damage in cooperation with county and state agencies. They also provide towns with the information they need to evaluate the threat and what they can do to preserve these important coastal resources.

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-- Matt Charette

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