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22-44. Assessing coastal storm predictions through a social lens

Coastal storm prediction models predict impact to both ecological and social parts of the coastal ecosystem. There has been much less attention paid to assessing social aspects of model predictions. This research opportunity will focus on developing an approach to assessing social aspects of model predictions using modelled results along with the impact of an actual storm event.  

Description of the Research Opportunity

Coastal storm models predict storm impacts to coastal ecosystems and coastal human communities. These models can inform stakeholders about coastal flooding (e.g. HERA) and coastal impacts due to tides, storm surge and waves (TWL). The projections can be used in hazard preparation and response to consider courses of action and areas of potential impact as a storm is approaching. Decision makers, property owners and emergency managers can use these projections to effectively prepare for and respond to storms in coastal communities. However, there have been few efforts to assess coastal storm model projections upon social aspects of affected coastal communities.  

Projecting impacts to social aspects of the coastal environments (i.e., infrastructure, institutions, communities, industry) can reduce human and financial consequences of coastal storm impacts. An interdisciplinary approach to ground truthing model results can increase understanding of modeling accuracy across disciplines and connect more stakeholders with coastal storm projections. In coordination with the USGS Risk community of practice, this work will be informed by natural hazards inquiries in other areas of USGS and inform broader considerations of risk. Addressing this knowledge gap will increase understanding of coastal storm preparation and response across geophysical, ecological and social perspectives.   

Assessing the social aspects of these projections can provide ways to improve coastal storm projections which can reduce risk to people and infrastructure in coastal communities. Assessing social aspects of projections will involve connecting projections with new management, regulatory and community members to empower more stakeholders to become end-users of USGS science for decision making.  

This research opportunity will focus on developing an approach to assessing social aspects of model projections by comparing modelled results with actual impacts of a recent storm event. USGS has modeled projections for significant recent coastal storms along the U.S. Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific Coasts. Impacts of storm events upon coastal property and infrastructure have been documented by various federal and state partners which can be compared with projections. Informed by applied social science concepts and methods, these projected and observed data can be combined to quantitatively assess model output consistency with actual impacts. This information will fulfil an important gap in ground truthing coastal storms modelling to lead to improved tools to reduce risk in coastal communities.   

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Research Advisor(s) early in the application process to discuss project ideas. 


Proposed Duty Station(s)



Areas of PhD

Social science, coastal resilience (with a social focus), marine affairs, or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines, but with extensive knowledge and skills relevant to the Research Opportunity may be considered). 



Applicants must meet one of the following qualifications: Research Geographer, Research Social Scientist  

(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above.  However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources specialist.)