Research

Research

USGS Coastal Change Hazards research uses a variety of approaches to better understand the coastal environment.   

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Technical Capabilities

Technical Capabilities

The data and tools provided by USGS Coastal Change Hazards research describe our coastline, how the coast can change through time, and the potential hazards associated with these changes. 

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Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder engagement and communications efforts connect USGS Coastal Change Hazard knowledge, data, and tools with target audiences and allow stakeholders to provide input that can be incorporated into science planning and product delivery. 

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Science Center Objects

Natural processes such as waves, tides, and weather, continually change coastal landscapes. The integrity of coastal homes, businesses, and infrastructure can be threatened by hazards associated with event-driven changes, such as extreme storms and their impacts on beach and dune erosion, or longer-term, cumulative changes associated with coastal and marine processes, such as sea-level rise. Scientists working on Coastal Change Hazards conduct basic and applied research and provide relevant science-based products to assist the Nation with these coastal change hazard challenges. By building a community with a broad range of expertise, CCH facilitates the integration of diverse coastal science and the exchange of new ideas and approaches across the Coastal-Marine Hazards and Resources Program (CMHRP). Innovative collaboration is encouraged in order to identify and address the Nation’s needs and coastal change hazards problems. Through observation and modeling, CCH develops robust and accessible coastal change assessments that help improve the lives, property, and economic prosperity of the Nation’s coastal communities, habitats, and natural resources.

Coastal Change Hazards Program Triangle Logo

CCH is a program focus led and executed by a community of USGS scientists, technicians, and communicators working together to develop advanced capabilities to observe, understand, and forecast changes to the Nation’s coast with immediate and long-term applications. By building a community with a broad range of expertise, CCH facilitates the integration of diverse coastal science and the exchange of new ideas and approaches across the Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resources Program (CMHRP). CCH encourages innovative collaboration in order to identify and address the Nation’s coastal change hazards problems.  

Recognizing the full scope of activities needed to produce science products that address national needs, CCH is organized into three complementary components: 

Stakeholder Engagement and Communication (SEC) is focused on connecting CCH science to stakeholders both within USGS and external to the agency. SEC initiates open conversations with these stakeholders to learn more about their needs for data, tools, and information. This helps to ensure that CCH science meets the needs of the Nation, and the science and data are useful and accessible. 

group photo of COAWST Modeling System training attendees

 Coupled-Ocean-Atmosphere-Wave-Sediment Transport (COAWST) model training participants in the James Hunt Library at North Carolina State University in 2019. Trainings take place every two years and allow users from around the world to trade case studies, techniques, tips, new features, and additional tools for COAWST

Photograph of Emily Himmelstoss leading the Coastal Change Hazards Workshop

Participants at the State of Our Nation’s Coast stakeholder engagement workshop at Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in East Falmouth, Massachusetts.

Technical Capabilities and Applications (TCA) provides and applies technical expertise, methods and data visualizations to sustain regional to national-scale CCH assessment products; manages CCH data sharing and visualization efforts; and coordinates a Program-wide technical community that serves as a resource for projects across CMHRP. 

US Atlantic coast map 3 levels of forecast beach effects Hurricane Florence

The likely impact of Hurricane Florence on sandy shorelines of the US East Coast is provided three days prior to landfall. The bands on the map represent different coastal change hazards concerning beach dunes. Outer band:  Dune erosion. Middle band: Dune overwash. Inner band: Dune inundation, with potential flooding behind the dune. Credit: USGS Coastal Change Hazard Portal. 

Research  advances the science that supports the products users rely on to inform decision making. CCH integrates research across the three Coastal and Marine Science Centers and aligns basic and applied research directions with CCH user-informed science priorities.

The CMHRP has been conducting scientific investigations at Fire Island in order to protect coastal infrastructure

At Fire Island, New York estuarine, wetland, coastal, and oceanic processes interact, affecting natural habitats and coastal communities. The CMHRP conducts scientific investigations at Fire Island in order to protect coastal infrastructure. 

A person on a personal watercraft navigates through waters near a coast with low cliffs and hills way off in background.

The USGS conducts seasonal surveys along the west coast each year, to monitor how beaches are changing through time. Here, a USGS scientist navigates a personal watercraft equipped with GPS and sonar to measure seafloor depths near the beach. The GPS system enables the driver to follow a precise path and to revisit the same path in future surveys.

The result of close coordination and collaboration between SEC, TCA, and Research is a CCH program focus that aims to: 

  • Build a CCH community, with a broad range of expertise and disciplines, that shares data, methods, and practices to address complex science questions and community needs; 
  • Produce societally-relevant basic and applied science addressing coastal change hazards; 
  • Develop and provide science-based products that can be used by stakeholders to address coastal change hazard issues across the Nation; and 
  • Engage stakeholders and incorporate user needs into science planning deliverables.