Natural and artificially stabilized inlets have the capacity to promote significant oceanfront and estuarine shoreline changes through complex linkages of movement of the ebb and flood channels, the attendant shape changes in ebb and flood-tidal deltas, barrier island geomorphology, and underlying geologic framework. Superimposed on top of these natural processes are the influences of human activities, which can substantially alter these systems and enhance change. Research conducted at UNCW’s Coastal Geology Lab, under the direction of Dr. William Cleary, sought to determine the extent and magnitude of tidal inlet processes on adjacent barrier island shoreline change. These types of analyses are critical for the development of sound management strategies and long-term inlet/shoreline management plans. Several projects conducted along inlet-barrier systems of southeastern North Carolina have been used to develop local and state inlet/shoreline management plans by providing both GIS and field-based analyses of inlet morphodynamics on shoreline change and estimating their potential future impacts. New geospatial tools (SCARPS) were developed to facilitate GIS-based analyses and the delineation of the spatio-temporal extent of inlet-induced shoreline changes. In addition to conducting hydrodynamic and topographic surveys of these systems, GIS-based analyses of inlet and shoreline changes revealed cycles of accretion and erosion along the oceanfront of barrier islands adjacent to tidal inlets. Lessons learned from the study of the impacts of tidal-inlet systems of southeastern North Carolina on coastal change can assist with studies of inlet-induced changes along the South Carolina and Georgia coast in spite of differences in wave, tidal, and geologic regimes.
- North Carolina shore,