Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program (MsCIP)


In 2009, the Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program (MsCIP) was developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Mobile District in conjunction with other Federal and State agencies, to help reduce future storm damage along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The Comprehensive Plan for MsCIP includes the restoration of the Mississippi barrier islands; restoration of over 3,000 acres of wetland and coastal forest habitat; acquisition of approximately 2,000 parcels, with relocation of residents, within the high hazard area; improvement of a levee at the Forest Heights community in Gulfport, Mississippi; a flood-proofing demonstration in Waveland, Mississippi; and the study of other hurricane and storm damage risk reduction and ecosystem restoration options across the coastal area.

The barrier island restoration elements of the Comprehensive Plan include placement of sand at and adjacent to Camille Cut to connect East and West Ship Islands and augment sediment to the updrift system along East Ship Island and beach restoration for Cat Island. Additionally, future placement of dredged material adjacent to Horn Island Pass will be in a manner that will enhance the natural transport of dredged material to Horn Island.

USGS has been involved in data collection and monitoring and adaptive management (MAM) program development and implementation for the Barrier Island Restoration under MsCIP.

The objectives for barrier island restoration for MsCIP are to:
  • Maintain the estuarine ecosystem and resources of the Mississippi Sound.
  • Preserve the natural and cultural resources of the Mississippi barrier islands.
  • Restore the barrier islands structure to reduce storm damage impacts on the mainland coast of Mississippi.
  • Restore compatible sediment and enhance the long-term littoral drift system, which historically has maintained the Mississippi barrier islands through natural processes.

The Mississippi barrier islands are dynamic coastal landforms that are the first line of defense between the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi mainland coast. These islands are experiencing changes in structure (land area and habitat) and geomorphic processes (erosion and accretion) due to frequent intense storms, relative rise in sea level, and changes in sediment supply. Long-term loss of the barrier islands threatens the highly productive Mississippi Sound estuarine ecosystem and exposes mainland Mississippi coast and its associated habitats to increasing saltwater intrusion and damage from future tropical storms. To reduce the risk for vulnerable areas, under the MsCIP, the USACE is investing in barrier island restoration at Ship Island and Cat Island through direct sand placement to restore island structure and enhance sand supply to the littoral transport system.

A long-term MAM program is being integrated into the MsCIP barrier island restoration project to directly incorporate a science-based approach into the large scale restoration effort, including development of a conceptual ecological model, identification of risk and uncertainties, performance measures, objectives, success criteria, monitoring parameters and potential adaptive management actions. The developed MAM Program will allow the USACE to assess short and long-term impacts, restoration progress, and provide the information needed to adjust project performance to meet project goals and objectives.

USGS activities under the MsCIP Project include:
  • Bathymetric and geological investigations
  • Monitoring and adaptive management program development and implementation
  • Structured decision making
  • Water quality data collection
  • Aerial photography acquisition
  • Habitat mapping
  • Land trend analysis
  • Ship Island breach analysis
  • Data analysis, data integration and reporting
  • Data management and data visualization
Data Synthesis
  • Bathymetric data were used as the foundation for the seismic, side-scan sonar, and sediment data. After the bathymetry data was processed all data were referenced to the seafloor elevation.
  • Seismic data were used to create a 3-dimensional structure of the geology beneath the seafloor. Depositional units were identified and mapped in order to interpret the geologic framework.
  • Stratigraphic profiles from the vibracores were used to ground truth the seismic data and to help recreate the depositional environments of each unit identified. Physical descriptions and grain-size analysis were used to characterize the physical properties of the units.
  • Using seismic data, areas and volumes were calculated for the four sand units identified in the study, including calculating depth from modern seafloor to the tops of the units.
  • A decision support tool was developed to link restoration objectives and management options while accounting for tradeoffs between objectives and uncertainties such as storm events during and after construction.
  • A Conceptual Ecological Model was developed to describe the general functional relationships among the essential ecosystem components.
  • A monitoring design was developed and implemented to evaluate progress towards meeting project goals and objectives and to manage uncertainties.
  • Feedback loops were developed so that monitoring and assessment produce continuous and learning that in turn is incorporated into subsequent decision-making through adaptive management.
  • Incorporated transparency into data and information delivery and visualizations, to facilitate determinations of restoration progress, adjustments to restoration strategies as needed, and demonstrations of lessons learned.
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  • Byrnes, M.R., Rosati, J.D., Griffee, S.F., and Berlinghoff, J.L., 2013, Historical sediment transport pathways and quantities for determining an operational sediment budget--Mississippi Sound barrier islands: Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue 63, p. 166-183.
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  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 2009, Comprehensive plan and integrated programmatic environmental impact statement, Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program (MsCIP) Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson Counties, Mississippi: Mobile, Ala., Army Engineer District, v. 1, 417 p.
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 2014, Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program (MsCIP) comprehensive barrier island restoration Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson Counties, Mississippi, Draft supplemental environmental impact statement: Mobile, Ala., Army Engineer District, 282 p.
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Project Information

Begin Date:
  • 04/01/2010
End Date:
  • n/a
Mission Areas:
  • Ecosystems
  • Natural Hazards
  • Water
  • Biological Monitoring
  • Data Collection
  • Data and Tools
  • Decision Analysis
USGS PIs (listed alphabetically):