Battle for North Carolina Coast

Hurricane Irene Proves Point in ECU Authors’ New Book: North Carolina’s Coastline at Risk

Hurricane Irene, which crashed upon the Outer Banks of eastern North Carolina on August 27 and 28, literally changed the shape of a section of the 325-mile-long barrier islands that form the coast of North Carolina. In a recently published book, four East Carolina University experts on coastal dynamics discuss the ever-evolving North Carolina coastline; it’s history, and the current and future battles to preserve its natural beauty.

“The Battle for North Carolina’s Coast: Evolutionary History, Present Crisis, and Vision for the Future,” published by the University of North Carolina Press, is 160 pages of eye-opening facts, figures, graphs and stunning photographs that reveal the urgency in protecting North Carolina’s coastline.

Authors of the book are ECU geological science distinguished research professor and Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor Dr. Stanley R. Riggs; research instructor Ms. Dorothea V. Ames; Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Geological Sciences Dr. Stephen J. Culver; and associate professor Dr. David J. Mallinson.

The North Carolina barrier islands are not permanent. Rather, they are highly mobile piles of sand that are impacted by sea-level rise and major storms and hurricanes, as evidenced by the recent Hurricane Irene.

According to the authors, “Our present development and management policies for these changing islands are in direct conflict with their natural dynamics.”

Revealing the urgency of the environmental and economic problems facing coastal North Carolina, this book offers a hopeful vision for the coast’s future if we are willing to adapt to the barriers’ ongoing and natural processes.

“This will require a radical change in our thinking about development and new approaches to the way we visit and use the coast,” write the authors. “Ultimately, we cannot afford to lose these unique and valuable islands of opportunity.”

For additional information, contact ECU professor Riggs at 252-328-6015 or