Natural and Human-Induced Variability in Barrier-Island Response to Sea Level Rise

Jennifer L. Miselis, Jorge Lorenzo-Trueba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Storm-driven sediment fluxes onto and behind barrier islands help coastal barrier systems keep pace with sea level rise (SLR). Understanding what controls cross-shore sediment flux magnitudes is critical for making accurate forecasts of barrier response to increased SLR rates. Here, using an existing morphodynamic model for barrier island evolution, observations are used to constrain model parameters and explore potential variability in future barrier behavior. Using modeled drowning outcomes as a proxy for vulnerability to SLR, 0%, 28%, and 100% of the barrier is vulnerable to SLR rates of 4, 7, and 10 mm/yr, respectively. When only overwash fluxes are increased in the model, drowning vulnerability increases for the same rates of SLR, suggesting that future increases in storminess may increase island vulnerability particularly where sediment resources are limited. Developed sites are more vulnerable to SLR, indicating that anthropogenic changes to overwash fluxes and estuary depths could profoundly affect future barrier response to SLR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11,922-11,931
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number23
StatePublished - 16 Dec 2017


  • New Jersey
  • barrier island
  • human impacts
  • morphodynamic model
  • sea level rise


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