Coastal Change Hazards addresses the needs of our Nation’s coastlines

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The USGS formally announces the establishment of a program focus on Coastal Change Hazards to coordinate research and tools needed to respond to challenges related to risks and hazards along our Nation's coastlines. 

Coastal Change Hazards Program Triangle Logo

The importance of our Nation’s coasts is indisputable. Our coasts are our livelihoods, serve as critical habitats for many species, offer protection from storms, and are places we can experience both adventure and tranquility. No matter how calm and peaceful our coasts may sometimes seem, they are changing constantly — sometimes drastically, which presents some challenges. 

Aerial photograph looking west along Dauphin Island, Alabama, taken in September 2016.

 Forty percent of the United States population lives near the coast. Coastal change hazards therefore pose risks to lives, property, and infrastructure. 

Due to both our emotional and economic connections to our Nation’s coasts, more than 120 million people — about 40 percent of the United States' population — live in a county bordering the ocean or a Great Lake. As coastal populations continue to increase, more people, infrastructure, and ecosystems will be threatened by coastal hazards such as storms and sea level rise.   

 The USGS formally announces the establishment of Coastal Change Hazards (CCH)  to focus and coordinate research and tools needed to respond to national challenges related to risks and hazards posed by coastal change. CCH aims to advance coastal change observations, research, and forecasts, and connect this information more directly to users through public engagement efforts. Through this collaborative effort across the USGS, CCH aims to fulfill the mission of protecting the lives, property, and economic prosperity of the Nation’s coasts. 

USGS scientists, technicians, and communicators lead CCH from across the three Coastal and Marine Science Centers: Woods Hole, MassachusettsSt. Petersburg, Florida; and Santa Cruz, California. This diverse community works together to advance our capabilities in understanding and forecasting changes in and vulnerabilities to the Nation’s coast through immediate and long-term analyses and applications. By building a community with a broad range of expertise, CCH integrates diverse coastal science, encourages innovative approaches, and facilitates information exchange and collaboration in identifying and addressing challenges related to hazards along our Nation’s coasts.  

A young woman walks along the sand wearing a backpack with light equipment in it.

 USGS researchers collect a variety of data to study coastal change. Here, a scientist collects elevation data via GPS in to map the coastline in Santa Cruz, California. Data from these surveys help the USGS understand how sand moves; how the beaches, inlets, and other coastal features change with storms and the seasons; and how the local community may be impacted. 

Recognizing the breadth of skills and related tasks needed to produce scientifically-sound, useful products that address these national needs, CCH is organized into three complementary components: Stakeholder Engagement and Communication (SEC)Technical Capabilities and Applications (TCA), and Research. SEC connects CCH science to stakeholders to ensure that the data are useful, usable, and accessible for partners and stakeholders to better prepare for and reduce coastal hazards and risks. TCA provides and applies technical expertise, methods, and data visualizations to maintain nationally relevant CCH assessment products; manages CCH data sharing; and coordinates a technical community that serves as a resource for USGS coastal research. The Research component advances the science that supports the products users rely on to inform decision making. CCH integrates basic and applied coastal research across the three USGS Coastal and Marine Science Centers and aligns projects with CCH user-informed science priorities. The collaborative nature of CCH will help facilitate the establishment of a team with a broad range of expertise and disciplines to address complex coastal science questions. 

A woman stands in front of a screen while speaking to a group of people sitting at tables in a room.

The Coastal Change Hazards (CCH) program works diligently to connect CCH science to stakeholders and learn more about their needs for data, tools, and information. CCH conducts stakeholder engagement workshops such as this workshop in Oakland, California to collect feedback from users on USGS data and tools. 

To learn more about Coastal Change Hazards research, check out this series of geonarratives. These interactive story maps will take you on a journey to learn more about coastal change and the related research we conduct across our Nation’s coasts.

Screenshot of an image from another web site product displaying various lines indicating shoreline positions from 1852-1997.

This series of geonarratives introduces partners and stakeholders to the data and tools available through the Coastal Change Hazards.  The National Shoreline Change geonarrative explains how various types of data such as historical maps, aerial imagery, and lidar are used to calculate changes in shoreline position across time. 

Coastal management decisions that are guided by an understanding of persistent coastal processes and extreme events can minimize negative human, ecological, and financial consequences. Through the establishment of CCH , we are working towards a vision of a Nation that prospers by using scientific knowledge to prepare for, mitigate, and respond to threats to our ever-changing coasts. 

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