Future of our coasts: Potential for natural and hybrid infrastructure to enhance ecosystem and community resilience Ariana Sutton-Grier

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1 Future of our coasts: Potential for natural and hybrid infrastructure to enhance ecosystem and community resilience Ariana Sutton-Grier University of Maryland & National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

2 Exposure of the U.S. coastline and coastal population to sea-level rise in 2100 Arkema et et al

3 Hurricane Sandy: A Turning Point? 3

4 Hurricane Sandy Task Force Resilient Infrastructure On January 29, 2013 U.S. Congress passed the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013, which authorized $50 billion for disaster relief agencies. Funding required application of Infrastructure Resilience Guidelines to all federally-funded infrastructure projects (e.g., elevate one foot above the best available flood elevation data), and to: Provide technical assistance to help states and localities leverage disaster relief funding through public-private financing. Consider natural green infrastructure as a coastal hazard mitigation and stormwater management measure.

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

6 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

7 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 7

8 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

9 Economic Benefits of Coastal Ecosystem Protection Services U.S. coastal wetlands provide $23.2 billion storm protection benefits annually (Constanza et al.2008) Analysis of 34 hurricanes loss of 1 hectare of wetland in the model corresponded with increased average storm damages of $33,000 per storm

10 Hybrid Approach Hybrid Infrastructure (green + gray) Can combine strengths of green and gray Can use gray to protect green as it establishes Can provide more benefits when combined 10

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

12 Rebuild By Design: Big U Project Provides Climate Adaptation and Recreational Opportunities Graphic: Rebuild By Design Hard and soft infrastructure Deployable seawalls and natural park area for recreation Funded by Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program that HUD runs and foundation funds, including Rockefeller

13 Systems Approach to Geomorphic Engineering (SAGE) website SAGE is a Community of Practice of Federal, State, and Local Agencies, nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, engineers, and private businesses: Use and promote green-gray approaches to ensure coastal community and shoreline resilience Engage community partners in regional demonstrations Database developing of example projects

14 SAGE Brochure

15 Other Federal Efforts White House Office of Science and Technology convened the Coastal Green Infrastructure and Ecosystem Services Task Force to respond to Sandy Task Force recommendations Ecosystem Service Assessment: Research Needs for Coastal Green Infrastructure, should be released soon NOAA guidance on living shorelines should be released soon

16 Sustainable Adaptable Gradients in the coastal Environment (SAGE) NSF-funded Research Collaboration Network (RCN) Goal: creates a network of U.S., Caribbean and European engineers, geoscientists, ecologists, social scientists, planners and policymakers Develop and promote framework for wide range of possible infrastructure responses to coastal hazards across gradient of urban to rural areas to support policy and coastal decision making

17 Restore America s Estuaries Living Recent report: Living Shorelines: From Barriers to Opportunities Four Strategies: 1) Need to Educate about benefits 2) Improve permitting process including taking a shoreline-wide perspective in decisions 3) Increase capacity 4) Public entities should lead by example https://www.estuaries. org/living-shorelines Shorelines

18 Challenges/Opportunities How much protection is provided by different natural or hybrid options under different situations? How does type of storm and surrounding landscape features impact protection? Need data in particular on how hybrid systems perform during a storm Need multidisciplinary efforts (engineers, ecologists, and planners) to develop best practices for restoring and building natural and hybrid infrastructure

19 Challenges/Opportunities Need more data on the value of storm and erosion protection benefits (monetization where possible) Need more info on value of co-benefits of natural and hybrid infrastructure to inform cost-benefit analyses Need more people with expertise in designing and implementing natural and hybrid infrastructure (overcome inertia of current practice/system) Need to work 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 (see RAE Report)

20 We know enough to implement these alternatives now. The choice is up to society on what we want our future coasts to look like.

21 Thank you! For more info: 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:

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