Ocean City Beach looking north and the Everglades

National Shoreline Management Study

Interagency Efforts

The NSMS complements a number of governmental and non-governmental efforts that study the challenges to and opportunities for effective coastal management along U.S. shorelines. The following initiatives and reports relate to NSMS activities and facilitate interagency collaboration on coastal management issues

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

  • How Beach Nourishment Works (pdf, 2.54 MB)
    This document explains the basics of sediment movement and the role that healthy beaches play in shore protection. It details the engineering involved in beach nourishment as well as the benefits of nourished, sand-filled beaches for shore protection, ecosystems and recreation.
  • Coastal Engineering Manual
    The Coastal Engineering Manual (CEM) provides a single, comprehensive technical document that incorporates tools and procedures to plan, design, construct, and maintain coastal projects. It includes the basic principles of coastal processes, methods for computing coastal planning and design parameters, and guidance on how to formulate and conduct studies in support of coastal flooding, shore protection, and navigation projects.
  • National Flood Risk Management Program
    The National Flood Risk Management Program (NFRMP) was established by the Corps in 2006 to integrate and synchronize Corps flood risk management programs and activities, both internally and with counterpart activities of the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), other federal agencies, state organizations, and regional and local agencies.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

  • Coastal Services Center Beach Nourishment: A Guide for Local Officials
    This website provides information on a range of topics related to beach nourishment projects. It explains coastal geology and ecology, policy and socioeconomic factors relevant to beach nourishment projects, and engineering and dredging operations.
  • NOAA Shoreline Website
    The NOAA Shoreline Website supplies information about and access to shoreline data generated by federal agencies. It explains the use of shoreline data such as shoreline change analysis and boundary determination. This website aims to alleviate confusion about shoreline data generated by NOAA and other federal agencies.
  • Ocean and Coastal Resource Management: Shoreline Management
    This website explains approaches to shoreline management that do not involve hardening the shore with structures. It includes planning, policy and regulatory tools as well as information on the economics of shoreline management. This website was developed by the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM), which is charged with overseeing programs that assist states in managing, preserving and developing their marine and coastal resources.
  • Digital Coast
    Digital Coast features data, tools and resources to view and analyze a wealth of information relating to the coastal zone. Coastal conservation, land use, marine spatial planning, coastal hazards and climate change are all addressed by the data available on the website.
  • Coastal Services Center Public Trust Document
    This online training course is a guide to the Public Trust Doctrine and lands and waters subject to the Doctrine. It includes modules on the responsibilities of states, administering the Trust, riparian rights and more.
  • Shoreline Change Conferences
    Conference I
    The Shoreline Change Conference was held May 7 - 9, 2002, at the NOAA Coastal Services Center in Charleston, South Carolina. The purpose of the conference was to foster a dialogue between researchers and practitioners who were involved in the development and use of shoreline change estimation technology. The conference focused on data and technologies for measuring shoreline change, as well as on methodologies and applications to effectively document and understand this phenomenon.
    Conference II
    The intent of the second Shoreline Change Conference was threefold: to foster dialogue among researchers and coastal managers about tools, data and procedures used to make coastal management decisions; to explore policy, planning and regulatory approaches for managing erosion hazards; and to facilitate a coexistence of local needs with national needs and objectives. This conference involved a greater number of state and local coastal managers and placed a greater focus on the coastal management challenges and policy applications than the previous conference.
  • State of the Coast, a series of reports by NOAA
    • State of the U.S. Ocean and Coastal Economies - 2016 Update
      This latest update report features highlights from the CBE-NOEP collection of data compiled since the 2014 full Ocean & Coastal report showing the value of the oceans, Great Lakes and coasts of the U.S.
    • Pressures on Coastal Environments — Population: Distribution, Density and Growth, February 1998 (pdf, 3.25 MB).
      Long-term coastal development trends include both a movement toward the shore and the expansion of a large population base. This report outlines projections of growth and development in the contiguous coastal regions of the United States.
  • NOAA National Coastal Management Performance Measurement System (pdf, 20.59 KB)
    The National Coastal Management Performance Measurement System is part of an on-going effort by NOAA to work with coastal states to assess the effectiveness of programs in place to implement the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) (pdf, 161 KB). The system is a consistent framework for regularly reporting on the progress in meeting the goals of the CZMA by the National Coastal Management Program (NCMP) and the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) .

National Ocean Economics Project (NOEP)

The National Ocean Economics Project is an on-going effort to provide data on ocean and coastal-related economic activities and natural resource trends to support investment and management decisions made by governments, businesses and individuals. NOEP is jointly sponsored by California State University, Monterey Bay, NOAA and the EPA. The NOEP website provides access to completed study product, as well as a detailed description of data products under development. Examples of NOEP products include:

  • Market values database - Data on establishments, employment, wages and gross state product are available for coastal states and counties for both the Ocean Economy and Coastal Economy. The datasets are searchable by sector and industry and coastal counties.
  • Non-Market Values Portal - The Non-Market Values portal searches and finds peer-reviewed journal articles, Federal government reports and working papers that estimate the non-market value of one or more coastal or marine resources.
  • Living Marine Resources Database - This database is a repository of information about the landed weights and values for the U.S. commercial marine fisheries and mariculture industries.
  • Federal Marine Expenditures - Federal Ocean and Coastal Expenditures (civilian investments) are drawn from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget's annual Budget of the United States Government categorized by federal departments and/or the lower subagencies (excluding military activities).

National Coastal Condition Reports

The National Coastal Condition Reports describe the ecological and environmental conditions in U.S. coastal waters. These reports were intended to serve as a benchmark for measuring progress in coastal programs in the future, with subsequent reports to follow on more specialized coastal issues and assessment of condition changes over time.

These reports summarized the condition of ecological resources in the estuaries of the United States and highlighted several exemplary Federal, state, tribal and local programs that assess coastal ecological and water quality conditions.

The health and welfare of the United States is intrinsically dependent on our ability to wisely use and conserve the resources of our coastal region. The Coastal Research and Monitoring Strategy (pdf, 145 KB) is a joint effort among EPA, NOAA, DOI and USDA in cooperation with other Federal agencies, states and tribes. It assessed national needs for coastal research and monitoring and recommended an integrated framework for protecting vital coastal resources.



U.S. Geological Survey

  • USGS National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards
    The National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards is a multi-year undertaking to identify and quantify the vulnerability of U.S. shorelines to coastal change hazards such as the effects of severe storms, sea-level rise, and shoreline erosion and retreat. It will continue to improve our understanding of processes that control these hazards and will allow researchers to determine the probability of coastal change locally, regionally and nationally. The National Assessment includes the following components:

    National Assessment of Shoreline Change Project
    The National Assessment of Shoreline Change Project addresses an increasing demand for accurate information regarding past and present shoreline changes that is analyzed using methods that are consistent between different regions of the coast. To meet these national needs the Coastal and Marine Geology Program of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has already completed open file reports for the following regions:

    The series will continue with the remainder of the Pacific Coast and parts of Hawaii and Alaska. Other products of the National Assessment include GIS Compilation of Vector Shorelines and Associated Shoreline Change Data for each region.

    More Online Components of the National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards

    Coastal Classification Mapping Project
    This project is developing a broad geomorphic coastal classification that, with only minor modification, can be applied to most coastal regions in the United States. The overall objective is to provide accurate representations of pre-storm ground conditions for designated high-priority areas having dense populations or valuable resources that are at potential risk from storm waves.

    Hurricane and Extreme Storm Impact Studies
    This project investigates the extent and causes of impacts of hurricanes and extreme storms on coastal regions in the United States. The overall objective is to improve the capability to predict coastal change that results from severe tropical and extra-tropical storms.

    National Assessment of Coastal Vulnerability to Sea-Level Rise
    This project seeks to objectively determine the relative risks due to future sea-level rise for the U.S. Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf of Mexico coasts. Through the use of a coastal vulnerability index, or CVI, the relative risk that physical changes will occur as sea-level rises is quantified based on the following criteria: tidal range, wave height, coastal slope, shoreline change, geomorphology, and historical rate of relative sea-level rise.


Federal Emergency Management Agency

  • Coastal Barrier Resource System
    The Coastal Barrier Resource System (CBRS) laws define the CBRS based on a series of maps drawn by the Department of the Interior (DOI) that depict the specific boundaries of the individual units. FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) are published reflecting the CBRS boundaries so that agents and underwriters are able to determine eligibility for flood insurance coverage.
  • CRS Credit for Management of Coastal Erosion Hazards (pdf, 1.05 MB)
    The Community Rating System (CRS) rewards communities that are doing more than meeting the minimum requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to help their citizens prevent or reduce flood losses. The CRS also provides an incentive for communities to initiate new flood protection activities.
  • An Estimate of the U.S. Population Living in 100-Year Coastal Flood Hazard Areas
    FEMA completed a coastal demographics study of the United States and U.S. Territories. As part of this study, FEMA estimated the U.S. population subject to the 1% annual chance (100-year) coastal flood hazard as mapped by FEMA.
  • Projected Impact of Relative Sea Level Rise on the National Flood Insurance Program (pdf, 691 MB)
    This report contains the findings and conclusions concerning how the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) would be impacted by a rise in relative sea level. Two primary sea level rise scenarios were examined—a 1-foot and 3-foot increase by the year 2100.

National Research Council

  • A Geospatial Framework for the Coastal Zone: National Needs for Coastal Mapping and Charting (pdf, 400 KB).
    Although there are detailed onshore maps (topography) and offshore charts (bathymetry), there are no standardized uniform geospatial products — either maps or charts — that integrate the two. This 2004 report identifies and suggests mechanisms for addressing national needs for spatial information in the coastal zone. It identifies high priority needs, evaluates the potential for meeting those needs based on the current level of effort, and suggests steps to increase collaboration and ensure that the nation's need for spatial information in the coastal zone is met in an efficient and timely manner. The complete report is available for purchase in book form at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/10947.html.

Regional Studies

California Beach Restoration Study, 2002 (pdf, 15 MB).
This report by the California Department of Boating and Waterways and the State Coastal Conservancy, submitted to the California State Legislature, discusses the following:

  • Activities undertaken under the California Public Beach Restoration Act Program;
  • The need for continued funding of the Public Beach Restoration Program;
  • Effectiveness of the Program; and
  • Ways to increase the natural sediment supply.