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NCCOS Awards $11 Million for Research to Enhance Coastal and Infrastructure Resilience

Published on: 09/27/2022

Motorists crossing a flooded street in a low-lying Norfolk neighborhood called Colonial Place, which floods at every high tide. Credit: Chesapeake Bay Program/Will Parson

NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) is announcing $11M in Fiscal Year 2022 to fund 18 coastal resilience research projects across the nation. The complex challenges of sea level rise, coastal flooding, and increased storm frequency pose increasing risks to our nation’s communities and their surrounding ecosystems. Storm surge and coastal flooding that alters shorelines also represent a significant — and costly — threat to ports, roads, railways and public transportation. As the shift of preferred coastal protection measures from traditional engineered structures to natural and nature-based features (NNBF) gains momentum, so too does the need for scientific assessments of their effectiveness and implementation.

NCCOS is allocating $800K for three new awards and $3.2 million for 13 continuing awards, funded under its Effects of Sea Level Rise (ESLR) Program. Funded projects will help inform mitigation of sea level rise (SLR) impacts to coastal ecosystems, communities, infrastructure and surface transportation; and investigate the ability of NNBF to reduce the impacts of sea level rise and flooding. A full list of the new grant awards is available online.

New Awards: 

  • The Greater Farallones Association, Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and U.S. Geological Survey received $189,858 to advance natural solutions to sea level rise impacts for improved management on the north-central California coast.
  • Old Dominion University and University of Colorado Boulder received $476,639 to assess natural and nature-based solutions for roadway flooding and predict adverse effects of sea level rise on transportation systems.
  • The University of Georgia-CESU and U.S. Geological Survey received $180,144 for a project that will advance marsh modeling in the South Atlantic Bight to provide high-resolution predictions of future marsh evolution and the wave attenuation under varying sea level rise scenarios.

Continuing Awards: 

  • University of Wyoming, Point Blue Conservation Science, University of Texas Arlington and U.S. Geological Survey received a no-cost extension to develop a model that will compare the effectiveness of natural and nature-based features in providing shoreline protection in California.
  • Oregon State University received a no-cost extension to optimize the ecosystem services of U.S. Pacific Northwest coastal beaches and dunes.
  • Oregon State University received a no-cost extension to document the environmental and economic benefits provided by tidal wetlands in the Pacific Northwest, and predict the impact of sea level rise on those benefits.
  • College of William & Mary/Virginia Institute of Marine Science, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Virginia Commonwealth University received a no-cost extension to assess the ecological history of dunes in coastal protection from storms and sea level rise.
  • George Mason University, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy received a no-cost extension to enhance models that quantify the benefits of natural and nature-based features in Chesapeake Bay to inform management and conservation under future sea level rise scenarios.
  • University of Rhode Island and Penn State University received $640,314 to improve resource management and resilience to extreme events at north eastern National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges.
  • Texas A&M University Corpus Christi and Louisiana State University received $598,383 to  assess sea level rise vulnerabilities and natural and nature-based feature efficacy in the Texas Coastal Bend.
  • Auburn University, University of South Alabama and University of Wisconsin-Madison received $445,252 to develop an approach that evaluates road damage from inundation and the effectiveness of nature based approaches to mitigate inundation impacts.
  • University of Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University, South Florida Water Management District, U.S. Geological Survey,  University of Miami, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Rada Engineering, Inc. received a no-cost extension to develop a coupled coastal and inland flooding model and a dynamic mangrove vegetation model to assess the role of mangroves in enhancing coastal resilience.
  • U.S. Geological Survey, Louisiana State University, and University of Georgia​ received $132,867 to advance coastal dune and marsh modeling of the barrier islands, estuary and interior marshes in the Mississippi Sound to evaluate tradeoffs between ​potential ​coastal management strategies and proposed restoration efforts in the region.
  • University of North Carolina Wilmington, Villanova University, and University of South Carolina received $439,702 to identify east coast marshes most at risk to sea level rise, and the value of benefits they provide.
  • University of New Hampshire, University of South Alabama, and Rockingham Metropolitan Planning Organisation received $859,637 to identify primary coastal processes that cause pavement deterioration and damage.
  • University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and EA Engineering received $94,820 to develop a framework and process for matching dredging needs with opportunities for beneficial use of the sediment at local marshes, to help marshes keep up with sea level rise, allowing marshes to continue to deliver ecosystem services to their region. The project will focus on marshes in both Beaufort (NC) and Jacksonville (FL).

In addition to the competitive ESLR awards, NCCOS was congressionally directed to fund two efforts to improve coastal community response to sea level rise.

  • $5M for a Community-Direct Spending (CDS) request for a Coastal Infrastructure and Resilience Research Initiative in Georgia. The project aims to develop the knowledge and tools to design adaptive coastal infrastructure and equitable resilience strategies under projected future sea level rise scenarios along the Georgia coastline. The project is led by the Georgia Institute of Technology.
  • $2M to address the increasing risk of coastal inundation due to sea level rise through a project with the Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology (CIROH), in coordination with the National Weather Service. The project is led by Alabama University and aims to connect the National Water Model with models that can predict the performance of natural and nature-based features for reducing the impacts of sea level rise and storm surge.

These awards contribute to a larger NOAA effort to provide science to inform decisions, conserve priority ecosystems and advance the use of natural infrastructure to lessen the effects of coastal hazards. By combining field research with models and tools that can predict vulnerability and resilience, these projects will identify the most effective actions and land management decisions that consider both human and ecological needs, and will help develop best practices for the inclusion of ecosystems in coastal protection strategies.

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