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The State of Maine Beach Profiling Project, with its volunteer beach monitors, is vital to better understanding the monthly, seasonal, and yearly patterns of beach change. The data provided by the program is helping us understand the impacts of larger storm events, such as the Patriots' Day Storm of 2007 and the winter 2010 February and March storms. The data are helping us better understand when profiles encounter their lowest erosional surface (e.g., HI01 at Higgins Beach in the spring 2010 profile), and how the beach can recover relatively well.
The Maine Geological Survey, which conducts annual and sometimes biannual shoreline surveys on its own, does not have the personnel or funding to support monthly beach profiling efforts. However, with the availability of the profiling data from the efforts of the volunteers and funded from local sources, we are able to utilize data that would simply not exist if not for the program. These data are extremely important in understanding the impacts of, and documenting the recovery from, large storm events, and seeing how Maine's beaches are changing from year-to-year.
Analysis of the most recent profile data has shown that:
Comparison of summer (August) 2011 profile data will help determine if many of the beaches that underwent erosion through the summer of 2009 and 2010 continued to recede. The Maine Geological Survey plans to amend this online report to include analysis of summer trends at the end of this summer or in early fall. In the meantime, continued monthly profiling over the next few years will also help determine the status of Maine's beaches as we move into the future. We also highly recommend that beach profiling be restarted and spread out at some profile locations (e.g., Ogunquit Beach), and that some additional profiles be added in other locations (e.g., the central portion of Wells Beach).
In addition, in order to supplement the 2011 State of Maine's Beaches report, MGS will be incorporating the results of its Maine Beach Mapping Program (MBMAP). This program, which began in earnest in 2007, conducts annual surveys of several shore parallel beach features, including the wrack line or high water mark (after the last high tide) and the seaward edge of the dune vegetation line, at the majority of southern Maine's beaches. This data is captured in the field using a highly precise Real Time Kinematic Global Positioning System (RTKGPS), which is capable of horizontal and vertical accuracies of several centimeters. This data, part of which was shared during the 2011 Maine Beaches Conference concurrent session, will help supplement data collected by profiling volunteers, and will help us better quantify the shoreline changes observed over the past few years. Data collection as part of MBMAP for this year should be completed by August 2011. A subsequent report detailing observed changes through the summer of 2011 will be provided in online format by early fall 2011.
This kind of combined data - especially when collected over a long period of time - is important for future decision-making processes that incorporate different aspects of beach management, including identification of stable, eroding, or accreting shorelines, potential beach nourishment projects, dune restoration or construction projects, dune grass management, and where to best spend public (or private) funds in order to get the greatest benefit.
Last updated on July 14, 2011
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