CMHRP Links with Other Mission Areas

Science Center Objects

Strategy: Coordinate with other USGS Mission Areas and Programs to understand and predict the complex interactions within coastal and marine systems and the environmental and human consequences of natural and human processes.

There are several emerging and established opportunities for collaborative prioritization, planning, and program development with other Mission Areas.

The CMHRP is the only USGS program focused exclusively on the science and information needs of the Nation's coasts and oceans. With a focus on geological and physical sciences, the CMHRP depends on the capabilities and expertise of other USGS Mission Areas and Programs to provide the comprehensive science required across coastal and marine landscapes. Ensuring our science is actionable and accessible to diverse users confronting the variety of challenges within coastal and marine systems requires integration across scientific disciplines and coordinated delivery and outreach efforts. Leveraging and building upon the science and information products of other programs, contributing to shared objectives, and building on strong relationships other USGS entities have with key users all contribute to ensuring our science is comprehensive, responsive, and effectively delivered. CMHRP science is an essential part of that endeavor, but the pressing demands for coastal and marine science requires shared goals and sustained collaborative efforts. The CMHRP relies on other USGS programs and in turn provides unique capabilities to support their distinct missions and objectives. 

Long billed dowitchers

Long billed dowitchers.

(Credit: Tom Koerner, USFWS. Public domain.)


The Land Resources Mission Area science strategy establishes as a long-term goal to "improve understanding and prediction of coastal response to sea level rise, climatic change, and human development." Both climate and land-use change are substantial drivers of coastal change, and the CMHRP requires Land Resources Mission Area research and observational capabilities to meet program objectives.

Understanding and forecasting sea level rise and environmental change, including reconstruction of past and projection of future conditions, are required to inform coastal communities of their current and future vulnerability. Land Resources Mission Area climate research and development projects provide research understanding of the response of vegetation and biogeochemical cycling to changing climate and land use. Integration with CMHRP assessments and forecasts would provide decision tools of broader relevance to coastal planners and managers. Marine systems and marine science tools provide substantial opportunities for Land Resources Mission Area and CMHRP scientists to work collaboratively, to integrate information from diverse settings, and to build regional and global models of environmental change. 

Land Resources Mission Area leadership in remote sensing for environmental characterization (land cover, elevation) underpins foundational data for CMHRP development of widely available coastal change hazard tools. The rapid evolution of remote-sensing tools applied to coastal systems provides opportunities for collaboration that would enhance observational capacity and capability essential for meeting the national-scale demand for coastal science and information products. Land Resources Mission Area/Earth Observation and Science Center and the CMHRP have an existing partnership to develop coastal mapping techniques, capacity, and products. Land Resources Mission Area programs and the CMHRP have complementary expertise to quantify and model carbon capture and release within shallow marine and coastal systems. A shared focus on the carbon budget consequences of coastal and marine change is an emerging area of cross-Program collaboration.

Coastal wetland ecosystems in Jamaica Bay, New York,

Coastal wetland ecosystems in Jamaica Bay, New York, provide important ecosystem services along the highly urbanized Atlantic coast.

(Credit: Ann Tihansky, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.)


The Core Science Systems (CSS) Mission Area supports research, capabilities, and capacity that are recognized as essential to USGS objectives, including those of the CMHRP. CMHRP coastal research and delivery of reliable decision-support tools includes a critical dependency on rapid, reliable, and targeted collection and processing of accurate elevation data. The CSS/National Geospatial Program, through the National 3-DEP effort, is facilitating the provision of elevation data, and the CMHRP has contributed to broadening that program to reflect the particular requirements of coastal settings and users (change documentation, bathymetric coverage). Provision of seamless coastal/inland elevation models such as the CoNED products, along with land-surface characterization, would advance shared goals across multiple mission areas and facilitate modeling and applications within and beyond the USGS. 

The ability of the CMHRP to meet the observational requirements to maintain and extend existing products—products that demonstrate the value of CSS research and data—demands an increased partnership in setting requirements and building capacity. Similarly, the CMHRP has invested in development of state-of-the-art coastal modeling capabilities that enable translation of our science to broad application. The capacity to apply these models at regional and national scales, in response to changing conditions, demands increased access to high-performance computing, large data storage and transfer mechanisms, and access to partner reference data as model inputs. Collaboration with groups such as CSS’s Science Analytics and Synthesis (SAS) Advanced Research Computing team will aid in the development of new advanced computing architectures and tools required to meet the future needs of CMHRP modelers.

The CSS is the organizational home of the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (NCGMP). Ultimately, the geologic perspective on coastal change must span the marine and terrestrial geologic sciences. Today's inland feature is tomorrow's shoreline. The CMHRP and NCGMP need to more aggressively work toward seamless geologic characterization of the coastal zone, with particular emphasis on those settings (glacial/coastal bluffs, cohesive sediments) where the geologic controls on coastal evolution are poorly understood.

Perhaps the greatest challenge, both scientific and operational, to the CMHRP is ensuring our science is effectively delivered and effectively used. CSS leadership in information systems science, science delivery, and decision-support science all represent collaborative opportunities. The CMHRP has already partnered with the SAS on a catalog of publicly available data and leveraged the USGS Community for Data Integration to engage expertise and provide access to user communities to expand the visibility and impact of USGS science and information. Partnerships with the CSS, as the provider of USGS corporate expertise, would greatly enhance CMHRP efforts to provide reliable and actionable products while continuing to pursue critical research objectives.

Scientist surveying the presence and behavior of birds at Pelican Island, Alabama.

Scientist surveying the presence and behavior of birds at Pelican Island, Alabama. The CMHRP is working with personnel within the Ecosystems Mission Area on this project to identify how physical characteristics of barrier islands influence use by wintering shorebirds.

(Public domain.)


The CMHRP is responsible for conducting marine geologic, geophysical, and geochemical research on the location, extent, and composition of offshore natural resources. CMHRP expertise related to marine mineral, energy (gas hydrate), and aggregate (sand and gravel) occurrence and processes complements that of the Energy and Minerals (EM) Mission Area. Collaboration between the CMHRP and EM has resulted in a world-leading gas hydrate research program. The CMHRP supports EM goals to understand fundamental Earth processes forming energy and mineral resources and to understand the environmental behavior of energy and mineral resources. The CMHRP also supports, through characterization of the seabed and modeling of seabed disturbance and hazards, EM goals to understand the effects of energy and mineral development and use on both environmental and human health. In addition, many CMHRP tools and strategies for understanding seabed and subseafloor processes contribute to understanding marine hazards, offshore operations, and coastal infrastructure and populations.

EM programs have the lead responsibility for providing formal resource assessments, developing rigorous assessment methodologies, and quantifying the economic, demand, and supply drivers of resource valuation and availability. Given the primacy of EM in this area, the CMHRP will target its research investments to meet those priorities established by EM. The emerging EM focus on critical and rare earth minerals provides a particular opportunity for joint program and product development that addresses deep seabed mineral resources.

Image shows a gif of bubbles coming from the seafloor

Methane bubbling from a seafloor seep

(Credit: Shelton Du Preez, Schmidt Ocean Institute. Courtesy of Schmidt Ocean Institute)


The Ecosystems (ECO) Mission Area focuses on achieving sustainable management and conservation of the Nation's biological resources. While CMHRP research focuses on understanding of the physical structure of coastal regions and the processes responsible for creating such land- and seascapes, results of that research can assist in forecasting the ecological consequences of physical processes and change. A collaborative effort between the CMHRP and ECO would provide comprehensive decision support for coastal managers, including providing the capability to assess and evaluate management outcomes in terms of multiple and conflicting stakeholder interests. In particular, opportunities exist to leverage CMHRP landscape-scale approaches to understanding physical coastal change with the in-depth ecological understanding developed at local and project scales within ECO programs. The CMHRP would benefit from the relationships and understanding that ECO staff have developed with the resource management community and their resulting ability to recognize and respond to the planning and management structures within which consequential resource management decisions are made. By integrating ECO and CMHRP science, the USGS will be able to meet the needs of traditional ECO partners, including Department of Interior resource managers, to evaluate management strategies guided by the objectives to preserve and restore habitat, wildlife, and ecosystem services.

Seamless integrated elevation data for both land and submerged areas in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey

 Coastal storms can severely alter the topography and ecosystems along heavily populated coastal regions. Seamless integrated elevation data for both land and submerged areas in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey, are fundamental to coastal planning of the northeastern U.S. Atlantic coast.

(Public domain.)


The Environmental Health (EH) Mission Area, as a developing focus for USGS integrated science, provides tremendous collaborative opportunities for the CMHRP. EH research and products that address environmental contaminants and related health impacts to fish, wildlife, and the public across coastal landscapes can leverage CMHRP modeling and product delivery capabilities, draw upon and add to CMHRP data, observations, and scientific interpretations, and spur collaborative development of field and analytical tools. The CMHRP has a long history of conducting research on physical and physical-chemical processes in the coastal zone. The EH programs (Toxic Substances Hydrology, Contaminant Biology) have a long history of studies that link contaminant origins, distribution, transport, and mobility with bioavailability, toxicity, and potential effects on biota. 

Working together, CMHRP and EH expertise, laboratories, and capabilities can more effectively address key scientific questions at the terrestrial and coastal interfaces. For example, natural disasters such as hurricanes can effect a broad array of natural resource activities unique to coastal areas, including fish and wildlife refuge, drinking water supplies, and wastewater management. The role played by geologic, land use, and other factors in creating toxic algal blooms in nearshore environments is another topic that is best addressed through the integrated science approaches these programs can support. Collaborative efforts of the CMHRP and EH programs can lead to development of tools to forecast the environmental consequences of persistent change and extreme events. Definition of shared goals and integrated products would enable these programs to have greater impact and begin to provide a more comprehensive assessment of coastal vulnerability.

USGS scientists retrieve and process samples from an ecological processing monitoring station

USGS scientists retrieve and process samples from an ecological processing monitoring station. Each station includes a caged native mussel (shown attached to the buoy rope) and a sampler for measuring invertebrate consumers

(Credit: Sean Bailey, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.)


The CMHRP uses geological and geophysical tools to investigate the occurrence, potential, and processes of marine geohazards—including earthquakes, submarine landslides, and tsunamis. This work contributes to the Natural Hazards (NH) Mission Area, whose objective is to monitor, assess, and conduct targeted research on a range of natural hazards so that communities have the information they need to anticipate, respond to, and recover from natural hazards. The CMHRP will continue to work with NH programs to address their scientific needs and priorities. The CMHRP will also learn from, and contribute to, NH expertise in translating science to risk assessment and in providing tools and products that effectively inform the public, planners, and emergency managers.

NH and CMHRP programs capabilities and needs overlap in several areas, including for rapid assessment of hazard impacts, for geospatial observations to support assessment products, and for modeling of dynamic systems. For example, Earthquake Hazard Program goals would be advanced through collaborative research, applying CMHRP expertise and tools to map faults, quantify fault slip and past earthquake occurrence on faults, understand seismic vs. aseismic deformation, and constrain ground motion. Substantial collaborative opportunities exist with the Landslide Hazards Program to better understand offshore and coastal landslide processes and their impact on coastal ecosystems, infrastructure, and sediment delivery into and away from the coastal zone. Collaborative efforts to develop technologies and observational systems, including for geodesy relevant to coastal change, will lead to more effective programs individually and collectively. The CMHRP will also work with NH (and other USGS programs) to develop the social, economic, and infrastructure data and tools necessary to quantify risk.

house perched at the top of cliff edge above beach.

Exposed bedrock on the beach during very low (negative) tide at Isla Vista, California

(Credit: Alex Snyder, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.)


Coastal systems respond to persistent oceanographic processes as well as extreme wave and surge events, and to the input of sediment, nutrients, and water from river and groundwater sources over a similarly broad range of timescales. Both the CMHRP and the Water (Water) Mission Area rely on observations of water levels, flow, and chemistry and the analytical capabilities they demand. Both depend on accurate elevation mapping and on sophisticated hydrodynamic and transport models. With a focus on physical and geochemical systems, while recognizing the critical need to integrate ecological and human end points, CMHRP and Water programs have tremendous collaborative opportunities. Improved integration of coastal and inland flooding models, assessment of coastal change impacts on groundwater resources, and support for observational programs to develop and apply cutting-edge multipurpose models are some of the areas where collaborative planning and execution are a priority. Both CMHRP and Water Mission Area programs would benefit from improved characterization of the water levels, waves, and currents across urban and natural landscapes. Additionally, CMHRP technologies and products have application to inland water systems, just as Water observational, analytical, and information services can be applied to effectively expand the CMHRP's science program.

Lake Erie algal bloom

Landsat satellites captured this image of Lake Erie during a harmful algal bloom event.

(Public domain.)