Coastal managers have used beach nourishment—essentially importing sand to replace sediment lost through storms or erosion—to restore damaged beaches, but it is laborious and expensive. Adding to coastal managers’ headaches, the offshore sand used for such ventures is running short.
“Certainly preserving the beach has important benefits for humans and ecology, but as with any management decision, benefits need to be balanced by cost, especially when sooner or later the beach might be lost to sea-level rise or a major storm. How much is it worth for society to keep the beach longer in a given spot?”
Computer simulations of 4,000 storms suggested that without nourishment, a tropical storm or hurricane and sea level rise would reduce Santa Rosa Island’s beach by 97 percent to 100 percent by the year 2100.
But that loss could be cut to 60 percent with a 3-foot beach and to 34 percent with 5 feet of sand nourishment.