Shoreline Armoring

Massive sand bags View Shoreline Armoring Gallery

This refers to the construction of seawalls, jetties, offshore breakwaters and groins intended to hold shorelines in place. Although it is well understood by scientists that armoring beaches destroys beaches on a decadal time scale, this fact is still widely unrecognized by the general public or ignored by coastal developers and engineers. The demand for armoring will become even more widespread as the rate of sea-level rise and shoreline retreat increases. A few political entities (North Carolina, USA, North Sea Coast of Holland) have outlawed armoring (with moderate success) and more should be urged to do so. There are large numbers of salesmen with “unique” types of seawalls and groins (Holmberg Device) that need to be refuted.

Definitions of Shoreline Armoring Terms

Accretion
The addition of sand to a beach allowing it to widen and build out seaward.
Groin
Groin is a structure built perpendicular to the shoreline usually of rock or metal designed to trap sand that moves in the long shore current
Hardened beach structures
A general term referring to groins, jetties, offshore breakwaters, sea walls, tombolos, or any other engineered
Jetty
A jetty is a hardened structure built at an inlet usually made of rock or metal designed to keep navigation channels from filling in with sediment
Longshore drift
Long shore drift carries sand and sediment parallel to the shore and serves as the sand source for many beaches. On the east coast of the US, the long shore current is from the north to the south.
Offshore breakwaters
An engineered structure placed offshore and parallel to the beach. Breakwaters mimic sandbars to cause waves to break, lessening erosion on the beach behind the breakwater, but interrupting the longshore drift.
Shoreline armoring
The use of groins, jetties, offshore breakwaters, sea walls, tombolos or other hardened beach structures on the shore
Sea wall
A sea wall is designed to protect the land from erosion particularly during storms and usually made of metal, wood, or rock. One of the most famous seawalls is the Galveston seawall in Galveston, TX built after the 1900 hurricane killed 6,000 people on the island.
Tombolos
Tombolos are a special type of groin built perpendicular to the shore to trap sand, but with an end parallel to the shore designed to reduce wave energy.

Surfing in / Shoreline Armoring

Terminal Groins Don’t Stop Erosion

Decisions about terminal groins are being made in towns throughout the southern N.C. coast after the N.C. General Assembly in 2011 repealed a nearly 30-year-old ban on hardened beach erosion control structures. Legislators changed the law in 2015 to allow for up to six terminal groins.

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First Salish Sea-wide shoreline armoring study shows cumulative effects on ecosystem

Impacts associated with shoreline armoring can scale up to have cumulative, large-scale effects on the characteristics of shorelines and the diversity of life they support, new research shows.

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Living Shorelines: Better Than Bulkheads

More than 14,000 miles – 14 percent of continental U.S. coastline — has been armored with hardened structures. Hardened structures cause elevated rates of erosion on the shoreward side of the structure.

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New Rules to Ease Sandbag Restrictions, NC

Proposed new rules will make it easier for beachfront land owners to build sandbag walls and leave them in place for longer periods. Members of the state panel directed by the N.C. General Assembly to create the rules expressed fears that the new, looser restrictions could result in hardened beaches along the entire N.C. coast.

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North Topsail Beach Debacle No Way for NC to Manage its Coast; Op Ed By Robert Young

Is North Topsail Beach the most poorly managed beach community in the country? If not, it certainly seems to be taking a good shot at it. I have watched in dismay as the town has struggled to preserve a small stretch of oceanfront property at all costs.

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Effects of Seawall Armoring on Juvenile Pacific Salmon Diets

Are concrete seawalls actually affecting what salmons eat, and by how much? Researchers measured the types of prey in the water along armored shorelines and along restored beaches.

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Editorial – Wrong Direction on Beach Groins

Groins don’t really work. They stop or slow erosion in the immediate vicinity, but worsen erosion farther down the beach by halting the natural flow of sand. Beach sand migrates, especially as ocean levels rise. Trying to stop its natural course is potentially expensive folly.

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Erosion-Control Structures Could Expand In North Carolina

Some legislators are once again trying to expand the number of certain erosion-controlling structures allowed by law along the North Carolina coast. This time, they’re trying to do it through the state budget.

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Engineering away our natural defenses: An analysis of shoreline hardening in the US

Rapid coastal population growth and development are primary drivers of marine habitat degradation. Although shoreline hardening, a byproduct of development, can accelerate erosion and loss of beaches and tidal wetlands, it is a common practice globally. 22,842 km of continental U.S. shoreline, 14% of the total, has been hardened.

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  • Recent / Shoreline Armoring

    Living Shorelines: Better Than Bulkheads

    February 8th, 2016

    More than 14,000 miles – 14 percent of continental U.S. coastline — has been armored with hardened structures. Hardened structures cause elevated rates of erosion on the shoreward side of the structure.

    Read More

    New Rules to Ease Sandbag Restrictions, NC

    November 21st, 2015

    Proposed new rules will make it easier for beachfront land owners to build sandbag walls and leave them in place for longer periods. Members of the state panel directed by the N.C. General Assembly to create the rules expressed fears that the new, looser restrictions could result in hardened beaches along the entire N.C. coast.

    Read More

    North Topsail Beach Debacle No Way for NC to Manage its Coast; Op Ed By Robert Young

    October 5th, 2015

    Is North Topsail Beach the most poorly managed beach community in the country? If not, it certainly seems to be taking a good shot at it. I have watched in dismay as the town has struggled to preserve a small stretch of oceanfront property at all costs.

    Read More

    Effects of Seawall Armoring on Juvenile Pacific Salmon Diets

    September 16th, 2015

    Are concrete seawalls actually affecting what salmons eat, and by how much? Researchers measured the types of prey in the water along armored shorelines and along restored beaches.

    Read More

    Editorial – Wrong Direction on Beach Groins

    September 8th, 2015

    Groins don’t really work. They stop or slow erosion in the immediate vicinity, but worsen erosion farther down the beach by halting the natural flow of sand. Beach sand migrates, especially as ocean levels rise. Trying to stop its natural course is potentially expensive folly.

    Read More

    Erosion-Control Structures Could Expand In North Carolina

    September 3rd, 2015

    Some legislators are once again trying to expand the number of certain erosion-controlling structures allowed by law along the North Carolina coast. This time, they’re trying to do it through the state budget.

    Read More

    Engineering away our natural defenses: An analysis of shoreline hardening in the US

    August 8th, 2015

    Rapid coastal population growth and development are primary drivers of marine habitat degradation. Although shoreline hardening, a byproduct of development, can accelerate erosion and loss of beaches and tidal wetlands, it is a common practice globally. 22,842 km of continental U.S. shoreline, 14% of the total, has been hardened.

    Read More

    Gold Coast Beach Erosion Plan: Is the Plan on the Right Track?

    July 8th, 2015

    As the 2015 summer storm season approaches, has the Gold Coast City Council got the right plan in place to protect the beaches luring the 11.5 million tourists, residents and investors to Australia’s playground each year?

    Read More

    California Coastal Armoring Report: Managing Coastal Armoring and Climate Change Adaptation in the 21st Century

    May 24th, 2015

    In response to erosion and storm events, Californians have built seawalls, revetments, and other “coastal armoring” structures along significant portions of California’s coast. Coastal armoring now occupies more than 110 miles, or at least 10 percent, of the overall California coastline. This coastal armoring has diminished California’s beaches and habitat, irreversibly altered bluffs, caused increased erosion to neighboring properties, and marred the natural beauty of the coast.

    Read More

    Beach Erosion Put Resorts in Hopkins at Risk, Belize

    May 7th, 2015

    The pristine beaches of Hopkins, on Belize eastern coast, have always attracted visitors, but recently the region’s appeal has drastically changed due to accelerated beach erosion. It has been determined that the problem was being caused by a groyne built by Hopkins Bay.

    Read More