State of the Beach/State Reports/NH/Beach Erosion

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New Hampshire Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access86
Water Quality89
Beach Erosion3-
Erosion Response-5
Beach Fill2-
Shoreline Structures8 3
Beach Ecology3-
Surfing Areas35
Website5-


Erosion Data

Approximately 5% of New Hampshire's shoreline is critically eroding, according to the report "State Coastal Program Effectiveness in Protecting Natural Beaches, Dunes, Bluffs, and Rock Shores" (T. Bernd-Cohen and M. Gordon), Coastal Management 27:187-217, 1999.

In its 2006 Enhance Grants Program Assessment and Strategy, NHCP identified coastal hazards as a medium-level priority for the program. While certain parts of the New Hampshire coast are susceptible to coastal flooding, storm surge and erosion, these hazards are episodic and do not cause significant problems in the coastal area. New Hampshire’s primary coastal hazards are the result of the built environment, such as houses, sewage infrastructure and roads, intersecting with low-lying coastal areas. Development has filled or encroached on what used to be coastal wetlands and salt marshes, rendering then unable to absorb stormwater runoff from greater numbers of roads, roofs and driveways. As a result, flooding of low-lying roads occurs more frequently.

A search of the on-line library at the NHCP Website for "beach erosion data" yielded 894 documents. Unfortunately, very few of these seem to have any New Hampshire beach erosion data.

The Website does have information on beach, dune and island restoration, as well as piping plover protection.

Information on sea level rise and the predicted impact of sea level rise at three locations in New Hampshire can be found here.

Some beach erosion information may be available through New Hampshire Sea Grant.

A USGS report National Assessment of Shoreline Change: Historical Shoreline Change along the New England and Mid-Atlantic Coasts was released in February 2011. The New England and Mid-Atlantic shores were subdivided into a total of 10 analysis regions for the purpose of reporting regional trends in shoreline change rates. The average rate of long-term shoreline change for the New England and Mid-Atlantic coasts was -0.5 meters per year. The average rate of short-term shoreline change for the New England and Mid-Atlantic coasts was also erosional but the rate of erosion decreased in comparison to long-term rates. The net short-term rate as averaged along 17,045 transects was -0.3 meters per year.


The Heinz Center's Evaluation of Erosion Hazards, conducted for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), studied the causes of coastal erosion hazards and proposed a variety of national and regional responses. The study, published in April 2000, concentrates on the economic impacts of erosion response policies as well as the cost of erosion itself to homeowners, businesses, and governmental entities.

A NOAA website that has graphs of sea level data for many coastal locations around the country over the last 40 to 50 years and projections into the future is Sea Levels Online.

NOAA Shoreline Website is a comprehensive guide to national shoreline data and terms and is the first site to allow vector shoreline data from NOAA and other federal agencies to be conveniently accessed and compared in one place. Supporting context is also included via frequently asked questions, common uses of shoreline data, shoreline terms, and references. Many NOAA branches and offices have a stake in developing shoreline data, but this is the first-ever NOAA Website to provide access to all NOAA shorelines, plus data from other federal agencies. The site is a culmination of efforts of NOAA and several offices within NOS (including NOAA’s Coastal Services Center, National Geodetic Survey, Office of Coast Survey, Special Projects Office, and Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management) and other federal agencies to provide coastal resource managers with accurate and useful shoreline data.

A related site launched in 2008 is NOAA Coastal Services Center's Digital Coast, which can be used to address timely coastal issues, including land use, coastal conservation, hazards, marine spatial planning, and climate change. One of the goals behind the creation of the Digital Coast was to unify groups that might not otherwise work together. This partnership network is building not only a website, but also a strong collaboration of coastal professionals intent on addressing coastal resource management needs. Website content is provided by numerous organizations, but all must meet the site’s quality and applicability standards. More recently, NOAA Coastal Services Center has developed a Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Impacts Viewer as part of its Digital Coast website. Being able to visualize potential impacts from sea level rise is a powerful teaching and planning tool, and the Sea Level Rise Viewer brings this capability to coastal communities. A slider bar is used to show how various levels of sea level rise will impact coastal communities. Completed areas include Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Florida, and Georgia, with additional coastal counties to be added in the near future. Visuals and the accompanying data and information cover sea level rise inundation, uncertainty, flood frequency, marsh impacts, and socioeconomics.


Erosion Contact Info

Jen Drociak
Restoration Specialist
NH Coastal Program
50 International Drive, Suite 200
Portsmouth, NH 03801
(603)559-0028
Email: jen.drociak@nh.gov

Hazard Avoidance Policies/Erosion Response

See the Erosion Response section



State of the Beach Report: New Hampshire
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