Scientists propose artificial islands to protect the Jersey Shore

April 1, 2014 | Environment
Blue Dunes: is this the end of surfing in New Jersey and New York?

The Stevens Institute of Technology has proposed the construction of a string of artificial islands off the coast of New Jersey and New York to protect the shoreline from swells and storms.

The "Blue Dunes" is part of Rebuild By Design, a competition sponsored by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to develop fundable solutions to better protect residents from future climate events.

It is one of 10 projects that will be evaluated and voted, although there's no guarantee any of them will receive funding.

Sea walls around cities, reestablishing oyster colonies in tidal flats to blunt wave action, and creating water-absorbent nature and recreational preserves are other ideas being discussed.

"This would forever change the Jersey shore," explains John Weber of the Surfrider Foundation. "And this does nothing to address rising sea levels; we'll still have homes that will still get flooded due to rising sea levels."

The controversial project would cost $10 billion to $12 billion. It was developed by the Stevens Institute of Technology (SIT), along with the WXY architectural firm and West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture.

"Our idea is to build a chain of islands, like a long, slender banana. The wave action and storm surge will reflect off these islands and go back out to sea rather than hitting the coast. Barnegat Bay would not be pounded, nor would lower Manhattan or Hoboken," underlines Alan Blumberg, a professor at SIT.