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Coastal Change Hazards scientist Dr. Legna Torres-García of the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) gave a lightning talk at the USGS Science Town Hall on the project assessing coastal vulnerability in Puerto Rico through stakeholder engagement.

Aerial imagery of coastal erosion in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico in 2006 (left) and 2018 (right)
Scientists at the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) are leading a project entitled “Coastal Vulnerability Assessments in Puerto Rico: focused stakeholder engagement to foster equity and inclusion.” The aim is to connect resources and tools for assessing coastal change hazards from the Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resources Program to relevant stakeholders and coastal communities in Puerto Rico. The image on the left shows the shoreline in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico in 2006. The image on the right shows the eroded shoreline in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico in 2018 with the 2006 shoreline indicated by the white dashed line.

This project was one of nine selected for lightning talks at the town hall to highlight FY21 accomplishments in climate science across the bureau. Dr. Legna Torres-García and Dr. Donya Frank-Gilchrist of SPCMSC are co-leading the project, which aims to make USGS hazards resources more accessible to underrepresented stakeholders in Puerto Rico to help them address coastal vulnerability challenges. The project is being implemented in three phases. The first phase includes building a database of USGS relevant environmental hazards projects and resources. To address this, the project team hosted a meeting of USGS principal investigators researching coastal erosion, inland flooding, landslides, earthquakes, and water quality in Puerto Rico. In phase two, focus groups were conducted with representatives from other federal agencies, academia, local and state government, coastal community leaders, and organizations with a diversity of interests to learn about their coastal hazards information needs. The focus groups provided an opportunity to share information on relevant USGS hazards resources and to identify knowledge gaps that future coastal research projects in Puerto Rico could address. The third phase will be comprised of roundtable discussions with potential collaborators and in-person workshops to introduce and train stakeholders on the USGS hazards resources available for Puerto Rico.

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