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OBSMAP Program

Assessing the Temporal and Spatial Variability of Coastal Change

During the 1997-98 and 1998-99 winters, the Pacific Northwest (PNW) coasts of Oregon and Washington were subjected to some of the largest wave heights observed during the past three decades.These storms resulted in significant erosion and damage to properties and infrastructure along many parts of the PNW coast1.For example, beaches in the Rockaway littoral cell (between Cape Meares and Neahkahnie Mountain) lost approximately 1.8 million m3 of sand, while home owners spent about $1 million on coastal engineering to mitigate the erosion.

To understand the effects (erosion or accretion) of future storms, particularly during major El Niños, and to improve our understanding of long-term coastal change due to sea level rise and climate change, staff from the Newport Coastal Field Office of the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI), are conducting an "Oregon Beach and Shoreline Mapping and Analysis Program (OBSMAP)" to document the spatial variability of beach change at various time-scales (i.e. seasonal, multi-year and long-term changes).The broad purpose of this work is to provide high-quality scientific information of the changing face of the Oregon coast, which can meet the needs of coastal managers, city and county planners, the geotechnical community and the public-at-large.

OBSMAP is a collaborative effort of the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing System (NANOOS), whose primary mission is to "...develop, implement, and integrate the various in-water and land-based systems that will constitute a fully robust and user-driven Regional Coastal Ocean Observing System (RCOOS), ... to provide PNW, west coast, and national stakeholders with the ocean data, tools, and knowledge they need to make responsive and responsible decisions appropriate to their individual and collective societal roles."Other key partners include the Coastal Management Program (OCMP) of the Department of Land Conservation and Development, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), the Washington Department of Ecology, and Oregon State University.