Coastal Vulnerability Assessment of Fire Island National Seashore (FIIS) to Sea-Level Rise

Open-File Report 2003-439
Prepared in cooperation with the National Park Service, Fire Island National Seashore
By: , and 



A coastal vulnerability index (CVI) was used to map the relative vulnerability of the coast to future sea-level rise within Fire Island National Seashore (FIIS), New York. The CVI ranks the following in terms of their physical contribution to sea-level rise-related coastal change: geomorphology, regional coastal slope, rate of relative sea-level rise, shoreline change rates, mean tidal range and mean wave height. The rankings for each variable were combined and an index value calculated for 1-minute grid cells covering the park. The CVI highlights those regions where the physical effects of sea-level rise might be the greatest. This approach combines the coastal system's susceptibility to change with its natural ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions, yielding a quantitative, although relative, measure of the park's natural vulnerability to the effects of sea-level rise. Fire Island consists of stable and washover dominated portions of barrier beach backed by lagoons, tidal wetlands and marsh. The areas most vulnerable to sea-level rise are those with the highest historic occurrence of overwash and the highest rates of shoreline change. Implementation of large-scale beach nourishment and other coastal engineering alternatives being considered for Fire Island could alter the CVI computed here. The CVI provides an objective technique for evaluation and long-term planning by scientists and park managers.

Suggested Citation

Pendleton, E.A., Williams, S.J., and Thieler, E.R. , 2004, Coastal Vulnerability and Assessment of Fire Island National Seashore to Sea-Level Rise, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 03-439

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Data Ranking
  • Coastal Geology of Fire Island National Seashore
  • Methodology
  • Geologic Variables
  • Physical Process Variables
  • Calculating the Coastal Vulnerability Index
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • References
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Coastal vulnerability assessment of Fire Island National Seashore to sea-level rise
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2003-439
DOI 10.3133/ofr03439
Year Published 2004
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description iv, 15 p.
Country United States
State New York
Other Geospatial Fire Island National Seashore
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