Advancing Coastal Resilience: Quantifying Risk Reduction Benefits of Natural Infrastructure

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1 Advancing Coastal Resilience: Quantifying Risk Reduction Benefits of Natural Infrastructure

2 Environmental Defense Fund s mission is to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends. Guided by science and economics, we find practical and lasting solutions to the most serious environmental problems.

3 Economics Partnerships Sustainable Solutions Nonpartisan Policy Sound Science

4 Importance of Coasts 2% of the world s land area. 13% of the world s urban population. In the US: 42% of national economic output. 39% of US population live in coastal counties. Coastal communities are highly vulnerable to climate change: Sea level rise could magnify storm surges. Increased coastal precipitation leading to increased runoff and flooding. How do we increase resilience along our nation s coastline?

5 The Best Resilience Measures Mitigate risk to public health and safety. Mitigate multiple sources of risk. Frequent and rare. Help achieve climate adaptation and mitigation goals. Create other co-benefits and achieve other public purposes. Have known durability and life cycle costs.

6 Natural Infrastructure Capable of improving the quality and resilience of economic, ecologic, and social systems. No regrets strategy: Can provide interim, flexible solutions while coastal communities plan for longerterm adaptation to climate change. Some solutions capture carbon. May be lower cost than traditional gray infrastructure Implemented in tandem with gray solutions to reduce costs and enhance performance of gray infrastructure.

7 Green Infrastructure Adds to Resiliency Multiple lines of Defense Strategy Mississippi River Delta Oyster reef, dune field (with embedded sea wall) 7

8 EDF Emerging Issues Workshop: Establishing Risk Reduction Performance of Natural & Nature-based Solutions Workshop Intent: Inform EDF s plans to advance proper use of natural infrastructure and nature-based solutions in improving coastal resilience. Connect decision makers with the research community to increase certainty about what these solutions contribute to risk reduction, how they do it, and conditions under which these solutions reliably work. Brought together scientists, engineers, economists, program managers, and financers.

9 Products 1. A review of the state of knowledge on the performance of NI/NB solutions. 2. A prioritized research agenda to address performance of NI and design of NB solutions in reducing coastal storm risks. 3. A prioritized agenda for enhancing adoption and funding of NI/NB solutions.

10 Working Premise Improve confidence More options New funding sources Accelerate coastal resilience Better quantify performance

11 Findings: Natural Defenses and Nature- Based Resiliency Tools

12 Reduce coastal erosion/ Shoreline stabilization Risk Reduction Performance Nuisance floods (sea level rise/ high tides) Short wave (<2 ) attenuation (Stabilize soil/ Sediment) Reduce force & height of med. waves (2-5 ) Storm surge (low frequency extreme events) *General coastal risk reduction performance factors include storm intensity, track, forward speed, surrounding local bathymetry and topography. Key + = High confidence, data available ~ = Limited confidence, refinement needed Blank = Data needed

13 Beaches, Dunes, and Barrier Islands Beach Nourishment (No Dune) Beach Nourishment (Vegetated Dunes) Barrier Island Restoration Reduce coastal erosion/shoreline stabilization Nuisance floods Short wave attenuation Reduce force & height of med. waves Storm surge Dunes can be restored to stabilize and grow. Constructed dunes can be designed to provide more habitat value. Barrier islands dampen wave heights. Impact of inlets needs to be understood. Many to all of the functions and services of natural dunes can be provided by artificially constructed dunes, especially if ecological considerations are included in designs.

14 Coastal Wetlands Reduce coastal erosion/ Shoreline stabilization Nuisance floods Short wave attenuation Reduce force & height of med. waves ~ Storm surge Wave attenuation and shoreline stabilization are the primary coastal risk reduction benefits. Greater attenuation for wind waves during lower energy events than for storm surge events. Faster moving storms more effectively attenuated than slow moving storms.

15 Oyster and Coral Reefs Reduce coastal erosion/ Shoreline stabilization Nuisance floods Short wave attenuation Reduce force & height of med. waves Storm surge ~ ~ Oyster reefs decrease salt marsh erosion rates by 40%. 1 Both can function as low-crested submerged breakwaters (esp. for low to moderate energy events). Oyster reefs are capable of adapting to keep pace with sealevel rise. 2 Coral reef crest and reef flats reduced 97% of wave energy that would have impacted shoreline (for small and hurricane sized waves) Scyphers et al. ( 2011) 2. Rodriquez et al Ferrario 2014

16 Coastal Forests and Mangroves Reduce coastal erosion/ Shoreline stabilization Nuisance floods Short wave attenuation Reduce force & height of med. waves Storm surge Can reduce storm surge. More effective with fast moving storms. Most effective in reducing wind waves and associated erosion. Block debris. Age (density & width) is key.

17 Small Scale Edging and Sills Reduce coastal erosion/ Shoreline stabilization Nuisance floods Short wave attenuation + ~ + Reduce force & height of med. waves Storm surge Sea grass canopies modulate water flow and currents, contribute to wave attenuation, and retain and stabilize sediments in shallow coastal areas. Mitigate erosive waves and stabilize the shoreline. Valuable for smaller scale, higher frequency coastal events. Can be implemented to create a marsh environment behind the sill/edging.

18 Findings: Natural Infrastructure: Research Needs

19 Research Needs Which question/research issue is: 1. The most pressing? 2. The easiest? 3. The hardest? 4. The most catalytic?

20 Research Needs Reefs: Do habitat focused reefs have the same effect as breakwaters? Reefs: How do reefs change/ keep up with climate change? Reefs: Interactions of reefs & currents Reefs: Conditions needed to deploy reefs (salinity, turbidity, etc.) Reefs: Best way to deploy reefs Wetlands: Modeling resolution, ability to capture heterogeneity Wetlands: Scale up lab studies, field investigation, deployment during storm events Wetlands: Accurate depiction of physics, interaction with vegetation, waves, Beaches, Dunes, Barrier Islands: Cost of maintenance over time Beaches, Dunes, Barrier Islands: Combination of hard/soft infrastructure (i.e., Beaches, Dunes, Barrier Islands: Equivalent of factor of safety Beaches, Dunes, Barrier Islands: Planted vs. natural vegetated root system Beaches, Dunes, Barrier Islands: Modeling vegetated dune/root contribution to Beaches, Dunes, Barrier Islands: Alternative dune design/configuration Beaches, Dunes, Barrier Islands: Local wind set up vs. ocean surge Beaches, Dunes, Barrier Islands: Merging other issues (ESA, recreation, etc.) Beaches, Dunes, Barrier Islands: How far do benefits penetrate inland? Small Scale Edging & Sills: Effect of changing sandy shores into sills & marsh The Most Catalytic The Hardest The Easiest The Most Pressing Lots of data now let s break this down!

21 Research Needs: The Most Pressing Wetlands: Accurate depiction of physics, interaction with vegetation, waves, currents, etc. Beaches, Dunes, Barrier Islands: How far do benefits penetrate inland? Wetlands: Scale up lab studies, field investigation, deployment during storm events Beaches, Dunes, Barrier Islands: Cost of maintenance over time Beaches, Dunes, Barrier Islands: Combination of hard/soft infrastructure (i.e., buried seawall)

22 Research Needs: The Most Catalytic Wetlands: Scale up lab studies, field investigation, deployment during storm events Wetlands: Accurate depiction of physics, interaction with vegetation, waves, currents, etc. Beaches, Dunes, Barrier Islands: Equivalent of factor of safety Beaches, Dunes, Barrier Islands: Cost of maintenance over time Beaches, Dunes, Barrier Islands: How far do benefits penetrate inland?

23 Research Needs: The Easiest Small Scale Edging & Sills: Effect of changing sandy shores into sills & marsh Beaches, Dunes, Barrier Islands: Equivalent of factor of safety Reefs: Do habitat focused reefs have the same effect as breakwaters? Reefs: Interactions of reefs & currents Reefs: Conditions needed to deploy reefs (salinity, turbidity, etc.)

24 Research Needs: The Hardest Wetlands: Accurate depiction of physics, interaction with vegetation, waves, currents, etc. Wetlands: Scale up lab studies, field investigation, deployment during storm events Wetlands: Modeling resolution, ability to capture heterogeneity Beaches, Dunes, Barrier Islands: How far do benefits penetrate inland? Beaches, Dunes, Barrier Islands: Merging other issues (ESA, recreation, etc.)

25 Instant Analysis High catalytic & pressing: Accurate depiction of physics, interaction with vegetation, waves, currents, etc. in wetlands is the most pressing area of research. High catalytic & easy: Equivalent factor of safety. High comfort with risk reduction functions of reefs. Need to understand inlets (continuity of reef structure).

26 Findings: Natural Infrastructure: Limits and Concerns

27 Limits and Concerns Project databases - successes and failures Ecosystem services/benefits Guidance, codes, and standards Connect with other entities, organizations, and government departments Streamlining regulatory process Expectation managements; not overselling capabilities Engagement with local communities Cost/benefit analysis Uncertainties over lifetime for private investors (and others); variable expenses Acceptance of engineering community Pilot program Research plan with real world applicable outcomes Funding (effectively use, event driven, private investments, sources, when, etc.) Better planning tools New research frame as opposed to disaster response; plan for when funding comes through Target construction companies No political will Environmental impacts of ESA Private property rights and legal barriers

28 Limits and Concerns Ecosystem services/benefits Guidance, codes, and standards Project databases - successes and failures Connect with other entities, organizations, and government departments Streamlining regulatory process Engagement with local communities Uncertainties over lifetime for private investors (and others); variable expenses Acceptance of engineering community Pilot program Research plan with real world applicable outcomes Funding (effectively use, event driven, private investments, sources, when, etc.) Better planning tools New research frame as opposed to disaster response; plan for when funding Target construction companies No political will Environmental impacts of ESA Private property rights and legal barriers

29 Instant Analysis New Top Three: Ecosystem services/benefits. Guidance, codes, and standards. Project databases successes and failures. Worth Noting: Engineers/scientists not a room of lawyers or highlevel policy makers.

30 The Best Resilience Measures Mitigate risk to public health and safety. Mitigate multiple sources of risk. Frequent and rare. Natural Infrastructure Help achieve climate adaptation and mitigation goals. Create other co-benefits and achieve other public purposes. Have known durability and life cycle costs. Enough is known now to guide appropriate (high confidence) use for some natural infrastructure solutions.

31 Next Steps Inform research community of catalytic needs. Partner with institutions to track progress & share results. Reach out to codes and standard organizations to adopt guidelines now for natural infrastructure. Evolve policy & practice regarding incorporation of ecosystem services, including risk reduction, into benefit /cost analyses for coastal resilience projects.

32 Questions?

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