NASA Kennedy Space Center Coastal Sustainability Study

Brevard County, Florida, United States

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NASA has identified erosion at the John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) along the Atlantic shoreline of Merritt Island.

This erosion poses a risk to critical infrastructure especially during hurricanes and extreme storms and is expected to worsen as future sea level rise (SLR) exposes upland facilities to higher water levels. To evaluate various shoreline protection strategies intended for a 50-year planning period, NASA enlisted AECOM to conduct two studies, an Atlantic Coastal Sustainability Study and an Estuarine Shoreline Sustainment Study.

The outcome resulted in an analysis of shoreline protection alternatives that the KSC could implement and manage, including hard armoring, nature-based infrastructure, and a combination of the two. We also developed criteria-based screening methods to determine the most beneficial options based on cost, permit feasibility, material source feasibility, constructability, ecosystem impacts, and future effectiveness. We evaluated potential nearshore and offshore sand source locations, and proposed a permitting procedure, including tentative schedules, supporting studies, and recommendations for protecting endangered species and habitats.

To examine beach and dune responses to waves, SLR impacts, and extreme storm events, long-term sediment transport modeling was used for the Atlantic shoreline study We also conducted life cycle cost evaluations to assist NASA in decision-making for future project alternatives.

For the Estuarine shoreline study, staff utilized orthophotography to develop the present-day shoreline, establish shoreline change rates, and assess wave climates. The results helped classify shorelines by risk level, and determined which critical upland infrastructure is most at-risk due to flooding.