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This report, the first of a biennial series that will be published in conjunction with the Maine Beaches Conference, summarizes qualitative morphologic characteristics and changes observed at Maine beaches that are monitored as part of the State of Maine Beach Profiling Project, termed herein as SMBPP (Maine Sea Grant Extension, 2003). This effort is in support of the goals outlined in Protecting Maine's Beaches for the Future: A Proposal to Create an Integrated Beach Management Program (Beach Stakeholder Group, 2006). The concept of monitoring Maine's beaches was endorsed by the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources of the Maine Legislature and a law was signed by Governor Baldacci in 2006 creating the Beaches Advisory Group and a biennial report to the Maine Legislature on many aspects of the State of Maine's beaches, including the geology described here.
The purpose of this geological program is to monitor beaches along the Maine coastline using a simple, cost-effective method that enables volunteers and local stakeholders to help collect and understand the coastal changes that impact their communities. The data help make beach management decisions and provide the basis for university research. Several scientific theses and research papers have been published using the results of the program (Hill and others, 2002), and the program was the basis for similar programs in other states (O'Connell, 2001). The SMBPP is funded and managed by combined efforts of the Maine Geological Survey (MGS) of the Department of Conservation, the University of Maine's Department of Earth Sciences, Maine Sea Grant, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Southern Maine Community College, and the Maine Coastal Program at the State Planning Office with additional support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. Significant time, personal equipment, and expenses are also contributed by a large team of citizen volunteers who conduct fieldwork monthly and record measurements in an electronic database.
This report reviews general beach and dune characteristics, topography, and general shoreline change characteristics at each beach profile location on a year-by-year and seasonal (summer vs. winter) basis since the start of data collection and continuing through April 2007 (where data were available). Results of this report are based only on beach profile data that were available for download from the Maine Shore Stewards Online Data Collaborative website (Maine Shore Stewards, 2007) as of the end of April 2007. Therefore, gaps may exist for data at some locations which have not been entered into the online database.
Data Collection Methodology
The SMBPP incorporates the use of trained volunteers to collect monthly beach profiles that start at a known point (usually a point marked in the dune or in a seawall) and continue shore-perpendicular to roughly the low water line at select locations.
The SMBPP utilizes the Emery Method of beach profiling for data collection (Emery, 1961) (Figure 2). This method is a simple, quick, inexpensive, and relatively accurate way to determine the change in elevation over horizontal distance. These data result in the creation of a "beach profile" that documents the topography of the beach - and specific features - at a given point in time (Figure 3). Volunteers record topographic data on a standardized data sheet (University of Maine, 1999), but also record notes on beach features along the profile, such as the presence of a scarp or edge of dune vegetation. Collected data are then entered online by volunteers into a database that is used to manage and view collected beach profile data. This database also allows for data download for additional analysis. This online database was the source of the data for this report.
At some locations, MGS has been able to use a Real Time Kinematic Global Positioning System (RTK-GPS) to survey the starting points for the beach profiles (Magellan Navigation, Inc., 2007). This enables the starting marks to be located in a three-dimensional (x, y, and z) framework of earth coordinates.
Spatial and Temporal Extent of Data
The locations of beaches involved in SMBPP are shown in Figure 1. Generally, there are 2-4 profiling locations along each beach. Along each collected profile, topographic points are generally collected at approximately 3 m intervals from the starting point, usually a stake in the dune crest or mark on a seawall, seaward to the low-water line (see Data Collection Methodology).
Volunteers have collected beach profile data - intermittently in some cases - since 1999 at some beaches. Most volunteer groups have entered applicable data into the online database through 2007 (and many with results from the 2007 Patriots' Day Storm), though many beaches also have gaps in data entry. In general, beach profiles are collected around the same time each month during times of low tide. Temporal datasets for each set of profiles are shown in Table 1.
Last updated on January 3, 2008
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