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Center for Spatial Information and Research

Application of Cumulative Impact Assessment to Analyze Patterns of Seawall Construction and Coastal Erosion

This project, conducted with a colleague at Western Washington University, synthesizes and applies a number of cumulative change principles and existing theoretical frameworks in the context of coastal management. We developed a conceptual framework that focuses on how coastal geomorphic systems respond to cumulative environmental change. The major emphasis of the framework is on developing a typology outlining the various types of activities, processes and system responses that result from the interaction between human activities and the geomorphic environment of a typical sediment transport cell. Methodological issues such as spatial and temporal bounding, system response complexities, and the adequacy of existing analytical techniques have also been examined. In addition, we applied our theoretical framework in the development of a cumulative impact assessment methodology focusing on coastal erosion. Analytical techniques were developed to measure possible cumulative impacts of shore protection on coastal processes by describing and analyzing spatial patterns and controls of seawall construction on Puget Sound Lowland shores in Washington State. The main cumulative impact assessment methodology was applied to sediment transport (i.e. drift) cells representative of those typically found along the Puget Sound. The pattern of coastal armoring was analyzed by comparing differences in a variety of relevant drift cell factors, including direction of netshore sediment transport, slope stability, vegetative cover, and property-owner motives.

Funding Sources:

UW-Oshkosh Faculty Development Research Grant Amount: $5,900
Washington State Department of Ecology Amount: $2,000
Dates of Project: 06/98 - 02/99
Summer Students Funded: 1

Finished Reports:

Gabriel, A.O. 1998. Application of Cumulative Impact Assessment to Analyze Patterns of Seawall Construction and Coastal Erosion. Washington State Department of Ecology Technical Contract Report. Oshkosh, WI: University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. 36 pp.

Related Publications:

Gabriel, A.O., and T.A. Terich. 2005. Cumulative patterns and controls of seawall construction, Thurston County, Washington. Journal of Coastal Research, 21 (3), pp. 430-440.

Gabriel, A.O., and T.A. Terich. 1999. Spatial patterns and controls of shoreline protection in Thurston County, Washington. Proceedings of the 1999 Canadian Coastal Conference, May 19-22, 1999, Royal Roads University, Victoria, B.C. Ottawa: Canadian Coastal Science and Engineering Association. pp. 121-135.

Gabriel, A.O., and T.A. Terich. 1996. Cumulative environmental change: a coastal context. Seeking Balance: Conflict, Resolution & Partnership. Proceedings of the Fifteenth International Conference of The Coastal Society. July 14-17, 1996. Seattle, Washington. Alexandria, VA: The Coastal Society. pp. 455-461.

Gabriel, A.O., and T.A. Terich. 2000. Cumulative patterns and controls of shore protection, Puget Sound, Washington. Presented at The Association of Washington Geographers Spring 2000 Meeting, April 28-29, 2000, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, Washington.

Gabriel, A.O., and T.A. Terich. 1996. Cumulative coastal change: theoretical application. Paper presented to the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association of Geographers. May 11-16, 1996. University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.