Global Warming and The Coastline of Virginia

The Recent Past – Erosion Data from 1999 to 2014

“An estimated 26% of Virginia’s shoreline is critically eroding, according to the report “State Coastal Program Effectiveness in Protecting Natural Beaches, Dunes, Bluffs, and Rock Shores” (T. Bernd-Cohen and M. Gordon), Coastal Management 27:187-217, 1999.

 Staff at Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) estimate that of the 27 miles of open ocean coastline from the State line to Cape Henry, approximately 20 miles are eroding. “Naturally” accreting beaches include Croatan, Cape Henry and False Cape. 

“Studies show that approximately one-third of Virginia Beach’s 22.9 mile coast is experiencing moderate to severe erosion. The average erosion rates for this area are 7.3 feet/year. Some areas experience erosion as high as 10 feet/year. “ -State of Beaches/State Reports/VA/Beach Erosion

“In Virginia, sea level – independent of beach erosion – has been rising at one foot over the last century, and recent evidence suggests the rate may be accelerating. 

“Changes in sea level are important in Virginia because it can threaten the extensive development that has occurred in the Hampton Roads area. These changes may also result in the potential loss of extensive tidal wetlands and shallow water habitats in the Chesapeake Bay, tributaries and the vast barrier island lagoon system on the seaside of the Eastern Shore. 

The attempt at developing Cedar Island on the Eastern Shore is a cautionary tale for others who might contemplate building on these barrier islands. The last house there finally fell into the ocean in 2014.”

“The U.S. Navy conducts beach surveys at Dam Neck… 

“The beach survey data from both the City of Virginia Beach and the Navy are compiled by VIMS for a report to the Marine Management Service. 

The Virginia Energy Plan, Ch. 5: Energy and the Environment, says this:

“What does climate change mean for Virginia? Climate change will affect Virginia’s people, wildlife, and economy. The Virginia Institute for Marine Science estimates that the Mid-Atlantic sea level will rise ~12 inches by 2030, threatening coastal islands and low-lying areas.”

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