Cunningham Middle School at South Park

School Website:

2022-2023 field trip data: CunninghamMS2022-23v2.pdf

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The Bureau conducts field trips with students from Cunningham Middle School at South Park in the Corpus Christi Independent School District. Eighth grade students collect data at sites on northern Padre Island (Fig. 1). NPI08 monitors a very active foredune crest and maintained beach. NPC06 and NPISW, on the Padre Island seawall, monitor beach restoration and maintenance activities seaward of the seawall.

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Figure 1. Location map of Cunningham Middle School monitoring site.

The sites monitored by CMS students are interesting to compare with the well-vegetated foredunes on Mustang Island to the north. The students have documented many changes at the NPI08 profile location, which is located just south of the North Padre Island seawall. The dune crest at this site is sparsely vegetated which creates an opportunity for prevailing winds to constantly rearrange and alter the shape and height of the dune crest (Fig. 2). Until vegetation is established that completely covers the crest of this dune, it will remain a highly dynamic site.

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Figure 2. Changes to the sparsely vegetated dune crest at NPI08 on northern Padre Island. (A) Beach profile data collected between April 2009 and April 2022. (B) Series of photos taken from the NPI08 dune crest showing the changes in vegetative cover and the topography of the crest at this location.

The site NPC06, near the southern end of the North Padre Island seawall, was added in 2015 to track the effects of nourishment projects and maintenance activities on the beach in front of the seawall and the adjacent natural area (NPI08). The beach in front of the seawall is periodically nourished with beneficial use material from maintenance dredging of Packery Channel. Using handheld GPS units, Cunningham students map the shoreline position in front of the seawall and the adjacent area with a natural dune system (Fig. 3). Student collected data have documented the rapid landward migration of the shoreline since the last nourishment. During the spring 2022 field trip, students were unable to conduct a beach profile or map the shoreline at NPC06 due to elevated water levels which reached the base of the seawall.

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Figure 3. Shoreline mapping, beach profile data, and photography at site NPC06 on the North Padre Island seawall. (A) GPS mapped shoreline position for NPI08 and NPC06 between October 2015 and October 2022. B) Beach profile data showing changes in the shoreline position between October 2015 and October 2022. (C) Photo looking north along the shoreline in front of the seawall on January 27, 2022. Notice the narrow beach and how close the wet/dry line is to the base of the seawall. In April 2022, the waterline was at the base of the seawall and students were unable to map the shoreline position.

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