The relative influence of humans on barrier islands: Humans versus geomorphology
Matthew L. Stutz, Orrin H. Pilkey, 2005. "The relative influence of humans on barrier islands: Humans versus geomorphology", Humans as Geologic Agents, Judy Ehlen, William C. Haneberg, Robert A. Larson
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Humans are an integral component of barrier island systems throughout the world. The diversity of cultures (e.g., economics, politics) present has as much influence on barrier island evolution as the diversity of environments (e.g., climate) in which they are found.
The actions of humans affect three inherent properties of barrier islands: Each island is individually unique in its physical and ecological setting (affected by direct “local” human activity), each island is linked to a chain of adjacent islands through longshore transport (affected by “regional” activity elsewhere), and each island responds dynamically to environmental change through cross-shore transport (affected by regional activity and shoreline stabilization).
Geomorphic carrying capacity is the resilience of barrier islands to human impacts. Geomorphic risk factors serve as a basis for predicting resiliency, providing both a measure of dynamic change (erosion rate and storm frequency) and available buffer space (island width and elevation). As risk factors increase, the dynamic and spatial character of an island comes into greater conflict with human landscape elements and is more likely to be altered.
The relative influence of humans on barrier island evolution can be estimated by comparing the anthropogenic impacts on the three major island properties to the island's carrying capacity. When the three properties have been completely altered, an island becomes entirely human-dominated, or “terminated.” Carrying capacity can indicate whether stabilization, retreat, or abandonment is the best long-term management option.