Field Investigations at Fire Island, New York, to Better Understand Hurricane Sandy’s Impacts and Support Studies of Coastal Resilience

By Cheryl Hapke, Owen Brenner, and M. Dennis Krohn       Sept/Oct 2014 Sound Waves Newsletter 

In response to Hurricane Sandy, which struck the U.S. east coast in October 2012, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is engaged in a research project that examines the coastal dynamics of Fire Island, a 50-kilometer (30 mile)-long barrier island south of Long Island, New York. The research will provide basic scientific information on coastal evolution and recovery, and will aid mitigation efforts and management planning.

From June 9 through June 25, 2014, Cheryl Hapke, a coastal geologist from the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center in St. Petersburg, Florida (SPCMSC), led a comprehensive field effort to map changes and collect baseline geologic data from the coastline affected by Hurricane Sandy. Hapke had been conducting research on Fire Island before Hurricane Sandy (see Fire Island Coastal Change) as part of the USGS Coastal Change Processes project, and she served as a subject-matter expert at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hurricane Sandy Joint Field Office in New York during the post-storm response to Sandy. Hapke and USGS personnel also conducted immediate post-storm coastal-change assessments (see USGS Open-File Report 2013–1231 and “USGS Scientists Predict, Measure Sandy’s Impacts on the Coastal Landscape,” Sound Waves, November/December 2012).

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