Shoreline Change on the East Coast of Florida

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Abstract

A shoreline change data base for Florida dating back to the mid-1800s is unique in the United States, and perhaps the world, with thousands of shoreline change measurements at a nominal spacing of 300 m. Moreover, data are available on factors contributing to shoreline change, including beach nourishment, disposal of dredged sand outside the littoral zone, cutting of new inlets and subsequent growth of ebb shoals, and longshore sediment transport into and along the east coast of Florida. Effects of relative sea level rise can be estimated using the Bruun Rule. These factors should have caused significant shoreline recession since the mid-1800s, but instead, the east coast of Florida has experienced significant average shoreline advance. The formation of carbonate sand is shown not to account for this difference. Onshore transport of sand from beyond closure depth, probably during episodic storm events, is the only possible source of the large quantity of sand that has advanced on average the shoreline of Florida's east coast. For shorelines with significant offshore deposits of sand, it is possible that sea level rise in conjunction with wave action contributes to onshore transport and shoreline accretion.

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