A GENERAL MODEL OF BARRIER ISLAND EROSION MANAGEMENTWITH APPLICATION TO OPTIMAL RESPONSE UNDER SEA LEVEL RISE

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2004-04-29

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This dissertation lays out a conceptual model for managing beach erosion on barrier islands. Households affected by erosion management are identified as beach visitors and coastal homeowners. The returns from beach quality accruing to beach visitors are assessed via travel cost theory, combining revealed preference and contingent behavior data, while the returns from beach quality accruing to coastal homeowners are assessed using hedonic price theory and data from multiple housing markets. An optimal control model is formulated, which takes into account (i) distinct beach user groups, (ii) joint services of beaches (both recreational and loss-mitigating), (iii) active and passive beach management options, (iv) costs of beach maintenance, and (v) the dynamic motion of beach quality. Optimality conditions define efficient beach nourishment operations, as well as the optimal terminal time for active management (i.e. beach nourishment) on barrier island beaches. Empirical results illustrate the optimal beach width for a particular site and the schedule of nourishment operations detailing the amount of sand to be placed on the beach in each time period. The analysis presents estimates of the terminal time of active management for a particular site, and how the terminal time varies with (i) the rate of sea level rise, (ii) the value of threatened coastal property, and (iii) the magnitude of fixed beach nourishment costs.

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