Free AEG Webinar on Fire Island

  • 18 Nov 2021
  • 4:00 PM
  • Virtual



Coastal Change at Fire Island, NY:  Influences of Storms, Geology and People

Thursday, November 18, 2021
Presented by 
Dr. Cheryl J. Hapke,
Integral Consulting and USFSP College of Marine Science




Presentation 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Virtual - Details to Follow
RSVP:    End of Business, Wednesday, November 17, 2021.  A timely RSVP is appreciated!

Cost: This event is free for all! 
 Non-members always welcome!  

One professional development hour (pdh) for continuing education credit (CEC) will be awarded for attending the presentation. 

Contact our secretaries at or our treasurer at to sponsor this meeting! 

Fire Island is a barrier island along the south shore of Long Island, NY. The majority of the island falls within the boundaries of Fire Island National Seashore which is managed by the National Park Service (NPS), and the island is a popular New York tourist destination.  Seventeen private communities are situated within the boundaries of the park and are interspersed with park lands, including a federally-protected Wilderness Area. USGS colleagues and myself had a long history of conducting research on the Fire Island barrier island and the adjacent inner continental shelf. The studies yielded a wealth of knowledge about the geology of the region as well as the formation, evolution and continuing response of the barrier island. The most recent research focused on understanding how the geologic variability of the coastal system controls the behavior of the barrier island on a variety of time scales – storms to centuries.
The island had had been at the center of a long-running dispute between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the National Park Service over a proposed regional sediment management plan called the Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Plan, in which USACE was proposing a 50-year beach nourishment program.  The NPS wanted to be certain that the best science was being used and to fully understand the potential impacts of the long-term nourishment plan on the National Seashore. The objectives of our research were to aid the NPS in decision-making.
When Hurricane Sandy made landfall in 2012 just to the south of Long Island, Fire Island became a natural laboratory for coastal scientists. Just before the storm, we conducted beach surveys to capture the pre-storm morphologic state of the island. When the hurricane struck, it breached the island in several locations, caused massive erosion of the beaches and dunes, and extensive damage to the communities. Following Sandy, data collection efforts ramped up, including beach and geophysical surveys, to document the response of a barrier island to the largest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin and the processes of recovery in the years following the storm.
The effort includes: the development of hydrodynamic and morphodynamic models of an open breach that formed in a Federal Wilderness Area; interpretations of new geophysical data of the nearshore to quantify the volumes of sediment that are available for recovery; and the development of conceptual and probabilistic models of beach recovery. The data and analyses added significantly to the existing body of research to yield new understanding of barrier island evolution. The knowledge and tools from the studies were used by the National Park Service and other federal and state agencies to help make decisions regarding the management of their natural resources.

Dr. Cheryl Hapke is a coastal geologist with more than 25 years of experience studying coastal evolution and coastal change processes in a variety of geomorphic settings. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California Santa Cruz, a Master’s from the University of Maryland, and her B.S. in Geology from the University of Pittsburgh.  Dr. Hapke worked for several decades with the U.S. Geological Survey as a research scientist, and now is a senior consultant in coastal resiliency with Integral Consulting. She also has an appointment as a research professor at the University of South Florida, College of Marine Science. Her current research focuses on coastal vulnerability and sea-level rise adaptation, developing new tools and approaches to evolve the science of coastal hazards. She has authored over 80 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, and technical reports, and served as a subject matter expert on coastal change hazards to local, state, and federal agencies, and international groups.


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