Science Center Objects

The continued devastation from recent hurricanes and tropical storms demonstrates the vulnerability of coastal communities to coastal-change hazards. Changes in sea level and storm-wave intensity are changing the areas that are prone to erosion and storm-related flooding. The Hazards Vulnerability Team has worked with USGS coastal researchers and partners to improve our understanding of community vulnerability to coastal-storm hazards, including the influence of climate change on these physical processes.

How will climate change influence community vulnerability to coastal-erosion hazards in the Pacific Northwest?

2050 Comprehensive land-use plan for Sarasota County, Florida.

2050 Comprehensive land-use plan for Sarasota County, Florida. (Public domain.)

In collaboration with Oregon State University, we examined changes in societal vulnerability to coastal erosion hazards along the Pacific Northwest coast that are themselves changing due to climate change. We developed a methodology for incorporating climate change into coastal erosion hazard zones that reflect variability in storm wave intensity, sea level rise, and the occurrence of El Nino events. We applied this new approach to coastal communities in Tillamook County, Oregon.

How could the intersection of sea level rise, hurricane storm-surge hazards, and increasing urbanization affect how communities are vulnerable to future hurricanes?

In collaboration with the Pennsylvania State University, we examined these issues in Sarasota County, Florida. Research included a geospatial analysis of populations, businesses, and future land uses relative to hurricane-related storm surge hazard zones that incorporate potential sea level rise scenarios. We then used these results in a community workshop in Sarasota to better understand stakeholder perspectives on land-use strategies for adapting to climate-change-enhanced coastal hazards.

How could coastal-change hazards affect community water systems, both today and in the future?

In collaboration with the Pennsylvania State University, we developed a methodology for collecting and integrating stakeholder perspectives of how community water systems may be affected by climate change, such as inundation related to sea level rise.