USGS Coastal Change Hazards

Video Transcript
Download Video
Right-click and save to download

Detailed Description

The USGS Coastal Change Hazards team works to identify and address the Nation’s coastal change hazards problems.  By integrating research, technical capabilities and applications, and stakeholder engagement and communications, the Coastal Change Hazards team develops robust and accessible coastal change assessments, forecasts, and tools that help improve the lives, property, and economic prosperity of the Nation’s coasts.

Learn more about USGS Coastal Change Hazards.

View the audio-described version.


Date Taken:

Length: 00:05:58

Location Taken: US

Video Credits

Written and directed by: Sara Ernst & Meaghan Emory.
Narration by: Ann Tihansky.
Audio Description by: Peter Pearsall.


When you picture the coast, what do you see? Rolling waves at sunset or a family day at the beach? A place for adventurous activity? Piping plovers skittering across the sand? Whatever you pictured, our Nation’s coasts are valuable to all of us. In the United States, coastal counties are home to one hundred and twenty-seven million people, account for eight point six trillion dollars in goods and services each year and the employment of fifty-five point eight million people. To preserve coastal communities, resources, and ways of life, we must be able to anticipate where and when coastal change is most likely. Coastal change science informs decisions that safeguard our lives, livelihoods, and coastal services.

The U.S. Geological Survey, or USGS, is the federal agency responsible for researching natural systems and their impacts on human lives and infrastructure.  We bring together expertise in hazards, mapping, ecosystems, and water resources to address the challenges and risks posed by coastal change. With climate change, rising sea levels, and more frequent and intense storms, there is an increasing need for our coastal change research and products.

The Coastal Change Hazards team provides scientific information that people use to guide decisions related to safety, resource management, and economics along the coastline.

Coastal communities need objective scientific information to support decisions regarding development, economics, environmental health, and public safety along the coast. Stakeholder engagement and communications efforts connect us with a variety of audiences and allow people to provide input that can be incorporated into coastal change hazards science planning. These efforts take many forms, including public outreach, stakeholder workshops, and partnerships. Understanding diverse stakeholder needs enables us to create effective data products, identify data gaps and potential partners, and build stronger connections.

To help address coastal change hazards, USGS conducts research using a variety of approaches. We map beaches, wetlands, the seafloor surface, as well as the layers beneath it; characterize substrates, habitats, and ecosystems across coastal and marine sites; and measure physical conditions like waves, currents, and water levels during storms. By analyzing these observations, we gain a deeper understanding of the complex coastal processes and events that cause changes to the coast.

Science can help us understand these places where we live and work. That information can be used to inform longer-term planning. For example, how do we build resilient coastlines that will withstand future changes in sea level?

Much of our knowledge of coastal systems comes from localized studies in diverse environments, such as wetlands, barrier islands, permafrost coasts, or cliff-backed beaches, and is applied to inform local decisions. This leads to improved understanding that can be applied on a national scale. We integrate this knowledge and data into models to explain, analyze, simulate, and predict coastal change processes.

USGS research allows us to develop technical capabilities and applications to provide critical information to decision makers and help reduce the risk and consequences of coastal change hazards throughout the Nation. Data visualization products are maps and graphical representations of information. Forecasts use scientific understanding and uncertainty to project how coastal hazards may influence resources and human lives in the future. Tools are products that allow users to apply our scientific research to the decisions they face.

The USGS is a recognized leader in coastal change hazards. We develop robust and accessible coastal change assessments, forecasts, and tools that provide Federal, State, and local officials with actionable intelligence to anticipate, prepare for, adapt to, and mitigate coastal change hazards.

There’s science that we can use to better explain how our coasts work. What the impacts that storms and sea level have on coastlines, but also the impacts that humans are having. If we make that information more accessible and provide it in a way that people understand it, they can then use it to make smart decisions along the coastline.

Understanding and addressing the complexity of natural coastal processes and interactions with human systems demands collaborative scientific efforts. By building and maintaining partnerships we can optimize resources, reach more stakeholders, and effectively address complex coastal challenges. Together, we can provide the science needed to protect lives, property, and economic prosperity along our Nation’s coasts.