Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Science and Mathematics


Earth and Environmental Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Jorge Lorenzo-Trueba

Committee Member

Pankaj Lal

Committee Member

Clement Alo

Committee Member

Thomas Herrington


Following the extensive coastal impacts (i.e., storm surges) caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the State of New Jersey chose to install large-scale engineered berm-dune structures as their main coastal resiliency strategy. Initially, the project was entirely funded with federal emergency relief funds, but will require state and local beachfront communities to pay a percentage costshare for future renourishment projects. The thesis specifically focuses on three adjacent beachfront communities within the barrier island stretch of Long Beach Island, NJ (i.e., Beach Haven, Long Beach Township, and Ship Bottom), all of which had been provided engineered dunes in 2016. Following installation, municipal assessed property values increased in all three communities, demonstrating that these municipalities’ value the protection provided by engineered berm-dune systems. What is unclear, however, is whether these communities can afford their cost-share of future maintenance. In this work, we first develop a “geo-economic” modeling framework to better understand the relationships between stakeholder values towards protection and their long-term feasibility to maintain engineered berm-dunes. Second, we use a hedonic modeling approach to quantify the beneficial elasticities (or percentage change) that engineered dunes have on the average stakeholder’s property value. These results suggest that as communities increase their cumulative wealth as a consequence of dune protection, they are more capable of having the adequate funds to budget for future projects. The three communities in our study raised property values following dune construction, while their budgets associated with beach renourishment funds remained steady, suggesting a potential budgetary fallout may occur following future storm events. Third, we build a decision support tool that uses a set of parameters for a particular community to measure the economic feasibility of coastal protection strategies, such as dune renourishment. To estimate future sediment volume demands, a proxy of sediment erosion, we employ high-resolution passive and active remote sensing tools attached to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or commercial drones. These tools will help to better constrain future costs related to erosion as sea-level rises and the frequency of large storms potentially increase. The cost-benefit analysis tool can help better inform decision makers to provide a more considerable outlook for future resiliency efforts.

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