From: Editor, ENN
Published August 21, 2013 08:57 AM

Plans to Remap Coastal Areas after Hurricane Sandy Announced this week

Preliminary U.S. damage from Hurricane Sandy that hit the East Coast in October of last year is estimated to be near $50 billion, making Sandy the second-costliest cyclone to hit the United States since 1900. Full recovery from Sandy will take years, but plans for remapping altered seafloors and shorelines were announced yesterday by a joint collaboration between the USGS, NOAA, and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

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The project includes acquiring data to update East Coast land maps and nautical charts by conducting a new survey of coastal waters and shorelines.

Using ships, aircraft, and satellites, the agencies will measure water depths, look for submerged debris, and record altered shorelines in high priority areas from South Carolina to Maine, as stipulated by Congress in the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. The areas to be remapped will be based on their relative dangers to navigation, effects from the storm, and discussions with state and local officials as well as the maritime industry.

"Our approach is to map once, then use the data for many purposes," said NOAA Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. "Under the Ocean and Coastal Mapping Integration Act, NOAA and its federal partners are taking a 'whole ocean' approach to get as much useful information as possible from every dollar invested to help states build more resilient coastlines."

"The human deaths and the powerful landscape-altering destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy are a stark reminder that our nation must become more resilient to coastal hazards," said Kevin Gallagher, associate director for Core Science Systems at USGS. 

The USGS will collect very high-resolution elevation data to support scientific studies related to the hurricane recovery and rebuilding activities, watershed planning and resource management. USGS will collect data in coastal and inland areas depending on their hurricane damages and the age and quality of existing data. The elevation data will become part of a new initiative, called the 3D Elevation Program, to systematically acquire improved, high-resolution elevation data across the United States.

The data acquired by the agencies, much of which will be stored at NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center, and through NOAA's Digital Coast, will be open to local, state, and federal agencies as well as academia and the general public. The information can be applied to updating nautical charts, removing marine debris, replenishing beaches, making repairs, and planning for future storms and coastal resilience.

See more at the USGS Newsroom.

East coast map image via Shutterstock.

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