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Monday, June 17, 2024

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Scientists Study Avalon’s Dune System

By Leslie Truluck

AVALON — Environmental scientists have installed small wind-monitoring equipment on the dunes at 40th Street beach here to investigate dune formation on raked and naturally evolving beaches.
The study, funded by the Sea Grant program, will examine sand and sediment movement and wind speed and direction in naturally evolving dunes and on raked beaches, which are generally flatter.
Dr. Karl Nordstrom from Rutgers University asked to conduct a beachfront study during off-season because, he said, the beaches are some of the best in the country. Nordstrom said Avalon beaches have the best conditions for the study since they have both raked and unraked areas.
Nordstrom said the experiment will provide information to make beach nourishment projects more cost-effective by looking at how to return nourished beaches back to a natural system.
“We hope to get the information out in the form of guidelines that can be used by municipalities. The borough has an excellent program to protect against hurricanes with protection programs above mandated standards,” he said.
“Avalon has always been a leader on various environmental projects, and we’re pleased to make a few blocks of Avalon’s beaches accessible for this important research effort,” said Avalon Mayor Martin Pagliughi.
Short masts erected on the dunes hold anemometers with rotating sand trap cups, which generate a voltage current, which will be converted to a velocity of meters-per-second, to measure small changes in dune elevation. Anemometers and sand traps will be placed on both raked and unraked beaches for comparison.
Equipment will be in place until the end of October and again for another three to four week period in March. Nordstrom said these months are the best times to study sand transport by wind and how the beach has changed after the storm season.
“This is not a project that is trying to answer a specific question raised by the borough,” Nordstrom said.
According to a project summary provided to Avalon officials:
“The opportunity exists to provide increased resilience of nourished beach and dune systems that sustain both human and ecological communities. Knowledge of the transport potential across the backshore of nourished beaches and the spectrum of ecological niches that are capable of emerging on the backshore over time can reveal the frequency and magnitude of adaptive measures to increase both human and biological values…. the real time imagery will be uploaded to a Web site to provide the public with an understanding of the impact of storm events and the value of dunes in protecting against run up in addition to providing data on conditions for Aeolian transport and changes in dune topography.”
Project participants also include Dr. Nancy Jackson from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Dr. Jack Puleo of the University of Delaware. Evolution of habitats is also a major part of this study.
Information gained will be also be published in scholarly literature and posted to the Avalon Web site. Results will be available at the end of the summer.
Contact Truluck at (609) 886-8600 ext. 24 or at: ltruluck @cmcherald.com

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