USGS Fire Island Regional Study: linking coastal processes and vulnerability, beach and breach morphologic change

Last edited 09/05/2019
Contact Information

Contact: Cheryl Hapke,, (727) 502-8068

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is building on existing knowledge of the coastal barrier island system along the south shore of Long Island, N.Y., which includes Fire Island National Seashore, to fill critical data gaps, monitor and map the morphologic change in response to and after Hurricane Sandy and develop predictive models of response and resilience.

Prior to Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) had undertaken a variety of studies onshore and offshore of Fire Island to understand distributions of sediment and to evaluate coastal change in response to storms and human activities. Hurricane Sandy made landfall on October 29, 2012, coincident with an astronomically high tide that resulted in waves and storm surge which fundamentally altered the island. Beaches were severely eroded, dunes were overwashed or leveled along most of the island, and the island breached in several locations.  With the supplemental funding received through the Department of the Interior, the USGS is building on and expanding the existing knowledge of the coastal barrier island system. The supplemental project involves collection of data of the beach system (subaerial beach and dunes, the seafloor within the surf zone, and the still-open breach). These data are being used to create maps of the distribution of sand available for recovery, develop models of the evolution of the breach, construct time series of beach recovery, and build coastal resiliency models that can predict response and recovery to future storms. This work provides important scientific information and will make a difference for those that require an understanding of where the coast is more and less resilient to future storm events, including resource managers, planners, communities, and nongovernmental organizations, among others.  Additionally, this research also helps to support and/or inform decision-making among agencies with regulatory responsibilities involving coastal vulnerability, and preservation of species and habitat.


More information:

Was this page helpful?

Please provide a comment