Coastal Flooding & Solutions, Workshop Case Studies
Assessing Future Coastal Hazards for the Southeast United States
Location: U.S. East Coast
Submitted By: Patrick Barnard - USGS, Research Geologist
With 700 million people living in the coastal zone worldwide, storms, episodic cliff failures, and chronic beach erosion pose a significant hazard to coastal communities and associated infrastructure; hazards that will be amplified by continued sea-level rise and population growth in the coming decades. Despite projections that over $1 trillion in property across the United States will be at risk of daily flooding by 2100, there exist only a limited number of regional studies that consider the full exposure of the coastal zone due to flooding from both sea-level rise and storms, while also considering the long-term, dynamic response of the coastal landscape. Prior work in California suggests that when considering dynamic water levels and the morphological response of the coast over the 21st century, the population at risk of flooding can triple over approaches using static water levels and coastal morphology. Therefore, it is imperative that we develop a scientifically-defensible, nationally-consistent approach to deliver user-friendly tools that communicate the full extent of coastal hazards and associated risk over the next century, supporting effective local and regional planning, management and policy. The USGS Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resources Program has been developing coastal hazards products for decades across a range of coastal settings, including passive sandy, active tectonic, permafrost, and coral reef-lined coasts. However, coastal hazards models that comprehensively assess the exposure of the coastal zone to climate change have only been applied at the regional level (e.g., www.usgs.gov/cosmos), and such computationally expensive approaches are not practical for a national scale application. Here we will discuss the lessons learned from our regional flood- and erosion-hazard modeling research along the Gulf Coast, East Coast, West Coast, Alaska, and Pacific and Caribbean Islands, including the development of partner-driven products and scientific outreach. Further, we will discuss the development of a more streamlined modeling approach being piloted for the Southeast United States that integrates science from across the USGS, partner agencies (e.g., NOAA and USACE) and NGOs (e.g., Deltares); this approach will serve as a template for national expansion over the next ~5 years for producing coastal flooding- and erosion-hazards zones accounting for dynamic water levels incorporating sea level rise, tides, storm surge and waves.
Cross-center collaboration across USGS, rest TBD
More cross-disciplinary research, e.g., linking the physical with ecological
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