CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - Every year, thousands of people head to the Crystal Coast to enjoy the sun, surf, and sand, but ensuring that those beautiful beaches stay pristine falls on the shoulders of the Carteret County Shore Protection Office and the work they do to monitor and maintain the coastline.
The Shore Protection Office has contracted out work to Geodynamics; a group that surveys the beaches and maps out exactly what the shoreline and seafloor look like.
This is a process that happens twice a year and it's done through a combination of GPS equipment that runs along the same points each time and can detect the difference in elevations every time they go over those points.
This process is done on ATV's, on foot and out on the water.
By using all of that information, they can see when and where re-nourishment projects are needed.
"So we know at what point we might need a certain amount of volume and we can also look at trends along the shore-face where we might see it eroding to the west a bit, but more stable to the east, so we might be able to assist to better design re-nourishment project and process when that time comes," explains Dave Bernstein, the chief hydrographer with Geodynamics.
By having these 3D maps of what the shoreline is doing and by tracking how much sand is in different areas, the Shore Protection Office is able to have a clear understanding of what kind of damage a severe hurricane or storm system had on the beaches. Having that baseline also allows them to receive federal assistance if a big disaster occurs.
While surveying is currently going on in Emerald Isle, the same process will be done at Atlantic Beach once the re-nourishment project is complete.
That will give them a new baseline for how long this new sand is actually staying in place and keeping the beaches healthier.
Beach and shoreline surveys are conducted twice a year, every year, to give a complete picture of what the state of the beaches are all throughout Carteret County.