Over the past few decades, a number of published studies have suggested that shoreline erosion will likely intensify in response to rising global sea-levels. Furthermore, as coastal populations continue to grow and are located within or adjacent to barrier island, inlet and estuarine settings, there is an increasing need to identify the potential impacts of these systems on neighboring shorelines. High resolution studies, conducted within a Geographic Information System (GIS) framework and in the field, can help both coastal scientists and managers better understand the potential impacts of tidal inlet and stream dynamics on shoreline erosion, as well as facilitate better planning and management of select areas and/or resources threatened by such hazards.
Along coastal Georgia, the movements of tidal streams and inlet systems play an important role in the evolution of barrier island, estuarine, and mainland shorelines. The behavior of these tidally influenced systems can increase or decrease the vulnerability of development/infrastructure to coastal erosion and flooding hazards. Only a few studies have been conducted that link changes in tidal inlet systems along the Georgia coast to barrier island and estuarine shoreline change. Furthermore, no studies exist on a regional scale that extends from the oceanfront to the mainland that quantifies historical width changes and lateral migration rates of tidal streams and their effect on estuarine shoreline erosion. Additionally, it is also unclear how these systems are responding to rising sea level. Currently, there are no high resolution data available for coastal vulnerability models that address these issues for Georgia. The primary objectives of the proposed project are to: 1) develop a solid base of historical shoreline and inlet data for Camden and Glynn Counties in Georgia; 2) determine the spatial extent of the influence of tidal inlets on shoreline erosion; 3) construct shoreline change and inlet hazard maps for barrier islands estuarine areas, and the mainland; and 4) provide outreach activities that include educating scientists, managers and non-science-oriented stakeholders concerned with coastal issues. Ultimately, datasets, methodologies, and geospatial tools developed within this study can be used by researchers, policymakers, planners, and managers.