Chrystian Tejedor, The Invading Sea, Oct. 30, 2018

As beachside communities begin rebuilding in the wake of two recent catastrophic hurricanes, they should ask whether beach nourishment offers enough protection from erosion and flooding.

Hurricane Michael struck Florida’s Panhandle as a category 4 storm with 155mph winds. Barely a month earlier, Hurricane Florence flooded the Carolinas when the category 1 storm slowly washed over that region. In both cases, the hurricanes changed coastlines as beaches and dunes were overrun by waves, or in some cases, completely eroded.

Typically, recovery plans call for large-scale beach nourishment and dune construction to protect areas behind the beach from future erosion and flooding. A study by FIU coastal geologist Randall Parkinson suggests this practice will become even costlier and more controversial as the availability of sand dwindles.

 “Sand is not a renewable resource,” Parkinson said. “When sand is eroded from the beach during a storm, it typically accumulates in offshore areas as a very thin layer that can’t be dredge again to construct a new beach or dune.”


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