Date of Graduation

Spring 2015


Master of Science in Geospatial Sciences


Geography, Geology, and Planning

Committee Chair

Robert Pavlowsky


Rising sea level is threatening coastal areas, particularly those in the Caribbean which rely heavily on tourism and marine resources to support local economies. The purpose of this study is to analyze shoreline position along the south coast of Jamaica to determine the locations and rates of coastal change. IKONOS satellite imagery sets for 2003, 2007 and 2012 were used to monitor land use and shoreline changes along Black River Bay, including Galleon Beach Fish Sanctuary, in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. In particular, the effect of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 on shoreline changes was evaluated. Erosion rates were significantly higher during 2003-2007, the period including Hurricane Ivan (-0.90 m/yr), with reduced erosion rates and some recovery by deposition observed during the post-hurricane period (0.21 m/yr). Little to no changes were observed along limestone headlands and mangrove swamps with highest rates on sandy beaches lacking offshore coral reef protection and exposed to storm waves. Overall, shoreline recession averaged -0.31 m/yr during the study period with a peak erosion rate of -1.13 m/yr at Parrottee Point. Within the next 10 to 30 years, an expected 9 km of mangrove swamps and over 100 buildings are at risk due to sea level rise and shoreline erosion.


shoreline, erosion, sea-level rise, Jamaica, climate change

Subject Categories

Climate | Geology | Physical and Environmental Geography


© Karen Louise Zelzer

Open Access