Ariana Sutton-Grier, Holly Bamford & Kateryna Wowk University of Maryland and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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1 Future of our coasts: Potential for natural and hybrid infrastructure Ariana Sutton-Grier, Holly Bamford & Kateryna Wowk University of Maryland and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

2 Green (Natural) Infrastructure and Gray (Built) Infrastructure

3 Natural infrastructure provides coastal protection Factors that impact amount of coastal protection benefits: Depth and Crest Height (for reefs) Vegetation density and stiffness, and plant biomass production (for vegetated ecosystems) Ecosystem area and continuity (i.e., not separated by open water) Even narrow bands of wetlands or coral reefs can significantly reduce wave heights Sutton-Grier et al. 2015

4 Natural Infrastructure Benefits of Natural Infrastructure: Can strengthen with time Can be self-maintaining and has the potential for selfrepair after storms Can grow and keep pace with sea level rise Can be more cost-effective Provides benefits all the time 4

5 Salt Marsh Wave Reduction and Up to 60% of wave reduction attributed to vegetation Marsh substrate remained stable and resistant to surface erosion under all conditions, even once waves had broken the stems The effectiveness of storm wave dissipation and the resilience of tidal marshes even at extreme conditions suggest that salt marsh ecosystems can be a valuable component of coastal protection schemes Erosion Protection Möller et al. Nature Geosciences. 2014

6

7 Additional Coastal Ecosystem Services Examples of additional benefits: 1. Fisheries (recreational and commercial) 2. Recreation & tourism 3. Water filtration 4. Cultural services 5. Habitat for other species 6. Carbon sequestration & storage

8 Hybrid Approach Hybrid Infrastructure (green + gray) Can combine strengths of green and gray Can use gray to protect green as it establishes Use green to protect gray and lengthen the lifetime 8

9 After Hybrid: Living Shorelines Living shorelines: Use a combination of habitat creation or restoration and built infrastructure to provide protection from erosion and storms Provides some of the benefits of natural habitats This example is a marsh with an oyster sill (instead of a granite sill or seawall) Before

10 Rebuild By Design: Big U Project Provides Climate Adaptation and Recreational Opportunities Hard and soft infrastructure Deployable seawalls and natural park area Nature-as-buffer approach Graphic: Rebuild By Design

11 Natural Science Research Needs How much protection is provided by different ecosystems under different situations? Need more data during storms with waves greater than 1 meter How does type of storm (speed, intensity, duration) impact level of protection How do surrounding landscape features, bathymetry, topography, impact protection benefits Need to better understand non-linearity of benefits including seasonality Need multidisciplinary efforts (engineers, ecologists, and planners) to develop best practices for restoring and building natural and hybrid infrastructure

12 Social Science and Policy Research Needs Value of storm and erosion protection benefits (very few studies have done monetization) Value of co-benefits of natural and hybrid infrastructure to inform costbenefit analyses Societal trade-offs between natural and hybrid infrastructure and alternative coastal development land uses How to facilitate the permitting process for natural and hybrid options since it is often much easier to get a permit for a bulkhead or seawall

13 We have natural and hybrid alternatives: Choice is up to communities on what we want our future coasts to look like

14 Thank you! suttongrier.org Sutton-Grier et al Future of our coasts: The potential for natural and hybrid infrastructure to enhance the resilience of our coastal communities, economies and ecosystems. Environmental Science & Policy. Paper open access: 14

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