Shoreline armoring, risk management, and coastal resilience under rising seas

John N. Kittinger, Adam L. Ayers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The landsea interface is a complex socialecological system characterized by natural ecological processes and human-induced changes. Holistic management of the shoreline is a critical element of an ecosystem-based approach to the landsea interface in coastal zone management (CZM) programs. Anthropogenic alteration of shoreline environments has resulted in significant loss of sandy beach ecosystems and eroded the resilience of these systems to disturbance. We tested the efficacy of CZM programs in managing the landsea interface under current and future challenges by comparing alternative approaches to shoreline management in two U.S. states (Hawaii and North Carolina). Our results show that explicit prohibition of shoreline armoring has been more effective in conserving dynamic coastal environments and communities by passing the risk associated with coastal development fromthe public trust to private landowners. Over the long-term, robust anti-armoring legislation will de-incentivize risky coastal development projects while preserving coastal environments and the ecological services they provide to society. Policy prescriptions for effective shoreline management and increased coastal resilience under persistent coastal erosion and future sea-level rise are proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)634-653
Number of pages20
JournalCoastal Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Armoring
  • Coastal zone management
  • Erosion
  • Natural hazard
  • Resilience
  • Shoreline
  • Socialecological systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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