Shoreline Vulnerability to Sea Level Rise
James Madison University
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This assignment uses the Coastal Vulnerability Index (CVI) developed by the USGS to evaluate multiple factors that affect shoreline stability.
Introductory Oceanography Course for non-majors
Geomorphology Class for majors
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered:
General understanding of waves, tides, sea level rise, and coastal morphology
How the activity is situated in the course:
Stand-alone exercise (~2 hours)
National or State Education Standards addressed by this activity?:
Next Generation Science Standards: HS-ESS2-1, HS-ESS2-2, HS-ESS2-5,
Content/concepts goals for this activity:
Evaluate variables affecting shoreline stability.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity:
Other skills goals for this activity:
Description of the activity/assignment
When students consider the causes of shoreline erosion they often assume waves are the controlling process. Although they are correct there are other variables to consider. This assignment uses the Coastal Vulnerability Index (CVI) developed by the USGS to evaluate multiple factors that affect shoreline stability. The two sites used in this example- Virginia and Maine, were deliberately chosen because the wave height, i.e. wave energy, is almost the same but the erosion rates are different. Maine is more stable (lower CVI) than Virginia (high CVI), but waves are not the reason the stability of these two shorelines differ. This forces students to consider other variables such as underlying geology and sea level rise.
Determining whether students have met the goals
Students complete a table with the data they collect and answer several summary questions about that data.
Download teaching materials and tips
Activity Description/Assignment (Acrobat (PDF) 340kB Jun2 14)
Instructors Notes (Acrobat (PDF) 116kB Jun2 14)
Solution Set (Acrobat (PDF) 212kB Jun2 14)