While the fundamental understanding of coastal processes has improved over the past three decades, increased coastal urbanization, threats of future climate change, and human and societal needs are adding challenging complexities to coastal systems we live in and aim to understand. To address these challenges, identify exciting new areas of research, and build collaborations required to meet stakeholder needs, leading coastal researchers and practitioners from academia, industry, and government met at the 2014 “Past and Future of Nearshore Processes Research: Reflections on the Sallenger Years and a New Vision for the Future” workshop to develop a coastal research vision where societal needs and science challenges intersect. The resulting vision, based on community consensus, is comprised of three broad research themes. USCRP coordinates and funds research to address these themes.
As global climate change alters the rates of sea level rise and storm intensity and coastal urbanization continues to increase,an understanding of long-term coastal evolution is critical. Improved knowledge of morphological, ecological, and societal processes and their interactions will result in an improved ability to simulate coastal change due to future climate conditions. This will enable proactive solutions for resilient coasts and better guidance for reducing coastal vulnerability.
The devastation, lost lives, and billions of dollars in damages from major storms, such as Katrina, Harvey, Maria, Irma, Sandy, and Ike, along shorelines from Texas to New York and Puerto Rico are stark reminders of the coastal hazards faced by U.S. communities, businesses, and resources. Addressing this research theme will result in an improved understanding of the physical processes during extreme events, leading to improved models of flooding, erosion, and recovery. Forecasts of the impacts of these hazards are critical to protect the safety, security, and economic well-being of the Nation.
Increased pressures on coastal environments – including increases in microbial pathogens, fertilizers, pesticides, and heavy metal contamination - has led to decreases in coastal water quality, threatening ecosystem and human health. Predictive, real-time modeling capabilities required to manage competing needs in our coastal ecosystems requires improved understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological interactions and the implication for water- and sediment-based pollutants. With improved understanding and forecasting abilities, coastal scientists and stakeholders can work to improve beach safety, ecosystem health, and mitigation and regulatory policies.