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U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1119

The National Assessment of Shoreline Change: A GIS Compilation of Vector Shorelines and Associated Shoreline Change Data for the New England and Mid-Atlantic Coasts

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By Emily A. Himmelstoss, Meredith Kratzmann, Cheryl Hapke, E. Robert Thieler, Jeffrey List


Sandy ocean beaches are a popular recreational destination, often surrounded by communities containing valuable real estate.  Development is on the rise despite the fact that coastal infrastructure is subjected to flooding and erosion.  As a result, there is an increased demand for accurate information regarding past and present shoreline changes.  The U.S. Geological Survey's National Assessment of Shoreline Change Project has compiled a comprehensive database of digital vector shorelines and shoreline-change rates for the New England and Mid-Atlantic Coasts. There is currently no widely accepted standard for analyzing shoreline change.  Existing measurement and rate-calculation methods vary from study to study and preclude combining results into statewide or regional assessments.  The impetus behind the National Assessment project was to develop a standardized method that is consistent from coast to coast for measuring changes in shoreline position.  The goal was to facilitate the process of periodically and systematically updating the results in an internally consistent manner. 

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