Sustained morphologic changes to the shoreface related to Hurricane Sandy: Fire Island, NY

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 11:35 AM
Cheryl J Hapke and Timothy Robert Nelson, U.S. Geological Survey, St. Petersburg, FL, United States
A variety of topographic and photographic data have revealed widespread impacts to the subaerial portion of the beach system during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 - from beach erosion to barrier island breaching. However, less is known about impacts to the offshore environment. In order to examine a more comprehensive response of the active beach system to Hurricane Sandy, we quantify morphologic changes to the shoreface using bathymetric data along the length of Fire Island, NY. Airborne bathymetric lidar data, collected two days before Sandy made landfall, are used as a pre-storm baseline. Morphologic changes are measured using field surveyed GPS profiles collected along a limited portion of western Fire Island two months following Sandy and along the length of the island one year after Sandy. The offshore extent of the data is variable and analyses are constrained by the resolving ability of the lidar sensor, which typically achieved penetration to depths of 6-8m.

The surfzone morphology was extensively impacted by Hurricane Sandy and continued to evolve during subsequent winter storms. As is typical during large storm events, the outer bar moved offshore during Sandy. A year after the storm, however, the bar remains further offshore than it was prior to Sandy, resulting in a widened surfzone. Both the subaerial and submarine portions of the beach system lost considerable volumes of sand. The majority of the loss below mean high water (MHW) is in the surfzone, concentrated in the trough immediately landward of the outer bar and generally in the pre-storm location of the outer bar. The trough not only deepened in response to Sandy, but in many locations continued to deepen over the course of the following year, with an average change of more than a meter. The average volume of the shoreface seaward of the bar increased, which is attributed to the seaward translation of the outer bar and additional offshore transport and deposition of material from the inner surfzone during the storm. Additional surveys will be used to examine whether Sandy resulted in a longer-term reconfiguration of the shoreface or if the morphologic changes are largely ephemeral and the system recovers to a pre-Sandy morphologic state.