Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools


Orrin H. Pilkey

Bio and Research:

Currently, Dr. Orrin Pilkey is concerned primarily with writing books on the subject of conservation of the world's beaches and barrier islands. In his recent book with Rob Young, The Rising Sea (Island Press, 2009), he notes the global hazards presented by rising sea levels and argues that sea level rise may well be the first major global catastrophe related to global warming.

He is involved in local policy matters; for example, he writes op-eds pointing out the fact that the NC-20 group has wrongly convinced the state legislature that sea level will rise only between three and twelve inches and therefore is not much of a threat to North Carolina.

In his more recent book, The World's Beaches (University of California Press, 2011), written with three co-authors, Pilkey outlines the principles of beach evolution and summarizes the threats to the world's beaches in the future, which are mostly related to human activities.

Currently, he is writing a book entitled The Last Beach, with Andrew Cooper of the University of Ulster, concerned with the long-term future of recreational beaches in the context of rising sea level and the global increase of development pressure on the shorefront.

In recent years, Dr. Pilkey has collaborated with Charleston, S.C., batik artist, Mary Edna Fraser, using her art as illustrations in two books. The first of these is A Celebration of the World's Barrier Islands (Columbia University Press, 2003) which discusses the origin and processes of evolution of barrier islands on all continents. The second is Global Climate Change: A Primer (Duke University Press, 2011), using only batiks as illustrations.

Current research activities emphasize a critical review of the use of mathematical models in predicting the future of earth surface processes. Dr. Pilkey's first writing on this subject was the book Useless Arithmetic (Columbia University Press, 2007), with his daughter, Linda Pilkey-Jarvis. The emphasis is on near-shore sedimentary processes, including the response of shorelines to sea level rise.

Nicholas School of the Environment | Box 90328 | Duke University | Durham, NC 27708 | 919.613.8004 |    YouTube Twitter Facebook Nickipedia iTunesU