Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Status of Maine’s Beaches in 2011

Peter Slovinsky, Maine Geological Survey

with Erin, Lydia, and Sarah from the Scarborough Middle School

Data were collected from about 13 of Maine’s beaches between 2007 and 2011. Measurements were taken along the beach profile in the summer and winter to look at changes in the berm. A grading system was assigned to each of the survey locations (including a letter score, a number score, and a written description).

The surveyed beaches were located between York and South Portland. Between 1993 and 2003, the rate of sea-level rise doubled. In 2010, two significant storms in February and March altered the shape of many of the beaches. During the February storm, Portland experienced the second highest storm surge ever recorded at that gauge. The data collected are meant to inform local and state decision makers. It also gives a baseline data of beach dune elevations and volumes.

The beaches surveyed included the following:

Higgins Beach, Scarborough

Scarborough Beach, Scarborough

East Grand / Pine Point Beach, Scarborough

Kinney Shores Beach, Saco

Ferry Beach, Saco

Goose Rocks Beach, Kennebunkport

Goochs Beach, Kennebunk

Laudholm Beach, Wells

Drakes Island Beach, Wells

Wells Beach, Wells

Ogunquit Beach, Ogunquit

Long Sands Beach, York

A subset of beaches were included in the Maine Beach Mapping Project, which uses highly precise GPS technology and a new USGS system called the Digital Shoreline Analysis System to calculate the overall trend of erosion or shoreline accretion (growth).

Overall, for all surveyed beaches, the vegetation line is increasing seaward by 0.01 meters per year while the high water line is moving landward 1.8 meters per year. The trend seems to be that not enough sand is being transported to the back of the beach. Much of the sand is being lost offshore. This trend is reflected by the profile data as well.

Still to come in the Fall of 2011 is a supplement to the State of Maine Beaches report that will include beach profile data collected in the summer of 2011.

For more info see the Status of Maine’s Beaches 2011 report.

-- by Chris Cabot

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