Monitoring the Wilderness Breach


What have we learned from breach studies?

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    Tracking Coastal Change

    While storm events and breaches are part of a barrier island's natural processes and breaches can provide ecological benefits, decisions about breach management must be balanced by concerns that the breach may exacerbate flooding in adjacent communities of Long Island's south shore.

    Monitoring of the Wilderness Breach began within 48 hours of Hurricane Sandy. The State University of New York at Stony Brook, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and other coastal experts continue to regularly monitor conditions of the breach (breach shoreline position, depth, and tidal exchange), and water levels and water quality in the Great South Bay.

    As of March 2018, the wilderness breach on the northern shoreline was 590 feet, and the width of the southern shoreline of the breach was 1,180 feet. Extensive shoaling has occurred within the breach, as well as in the Great South Bay just north of the breach, and in the Atlantic Ocean south of the breach.

    Learn more about the breach's shifting shorelines and shoals.

    Water Levels and Water Quality in the Great South Bay

    Stony Brook University's School of Atmospheric Sciences has been collecting water level, salinity and water temperature data throughout the Great South Bay as part of its Great South Bay Project. This monitoring network includes a station at Bellport, New York, approximately 2.7 miles northwest of the wilderness breach.

    The Bellport station, which was established in 2004, is being used to evaluate the effects of the breach on water levels. Monitoring so far shows that since Hurricane Sandy, tide levels recorded at Bellport have returned to pre-Sandy conditions.

    Learn more about water quality in the Great South Bay ecosystem.

    Last updated: August 25, 2018

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