Perpetua: The UAH Journal of Undergraduate Research


College of Science


Atmospheric Science


Delaware’s coastline is a vibrant tourist destination and unique habitat for many vulnerable species. Yet, with the lowest mean elevation of any state, this stretch of land is threatened by geological and climatic forces, including coastal erosion, sea level rise, storm surge, and subsidence. The state’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has served as a diligent combatant of coastal land loss since the 1950s. In partnership with the DNREC, this team utilized Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager, Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus, Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper, and the Terra Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer in combination with ancillary datasets to create a suite of time-series maps that identified shoreline extent changes in response to management projects and to generate a coastal land loss susceptibility map. Analyses of coastline change across time were performed using quantifiable measures derived from the time-series maps. The team found a statistically significant shift of land to water between 1988 and 2018 (p < 0.05). Bombay Wildlife Refuge, Prime Hook Wildlife Refuge, Rehoboth Beach, Slaughter Beach, and Assawoman Bay are the most susceptible areas to land loss along Delaware’s coast. Areas that experienced the greatest land loss within the 31-year range were the Prime Hook and Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuges. Conversely, Cape Henlopen exhibited a notable accretion of land. These analyses can be used by the DNREC to support the development of future coastal protection and replenishment strategies through the evaluation of restoration technique effectiveness and identification of at-risk areas.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.