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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Reducing Coastal Risk on the East and Gulf Coasts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18811.
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Reducing Coastal Risk on the
East and Gulf Coasts

Committee on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Science,
Engineering, and Planning: Coastal Risk Reduction

Water Science and Technology Board

Ocean Studies Board

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
                              OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.

www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Reducing Coastal Risk on the East and Gulf Coasts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18811.
×

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

Support for this study was provided by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under contract number W912HQ-09-C-0041. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-30586-0
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-30586-1
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014948025

Additional copies of this report are available for sale from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; Internet, http://www.nap.edu.

Copyright 2014 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Reducing Coastal Risk on the East and Gulf Coasts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18811.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Reducing Coastal Risk on the East and Gulf Coasts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18811.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Reducing Coastal Risk on the East and Gulf Coasts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18811.
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COMMITTEE ON U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
WATER RESOURCES SCIENCE, ENGINEERING, AND
PLANNING: COASTAL RISK REDUCTION

RICHARD A. LUETTICH, JR., Chairman, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

GREGORY B. BAECHER, University of Maryland, College Park

SUSAN B. BELL, University of South Florida, Tampa

PHILLIP R. BERKE, Texas A&M University, College Station

ROSS B. COROTIS, University of Colorado, Boulder

DANIEL T. COX, Oregon State University, Corvallis

ROBERT A. DALRYMPLE, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

TONY MACDONALD, Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey

KARL F. NORDSTROM, Rutgers, New Brunswick, New Jersey

STEPHEN POLASKY, University of Minnesota, St. Paul

SEAN P. POWERS, University of South Alabama, Mobile

DON RESIO, University of North Florida, Jacksonville

AP VAN DONGEREN, Deltares, Rotterdamseweg, The Netherlands

NRC Staff

STEPHANIE E. JOHNSON, Study Director, Water Science and Technology Board

DEBORAH GLICKSON, Senior Program Officer, Ocean Studies Board

ANITA A. HALL, Senior Program Associate, Water Science and Technology Board

SARAH E. BRENNAN, Program Assistant, Water Science and Technology Board

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Reducing Coastal Risk on the East and Gulf Coasts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18811.
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WATER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BOARD

GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, Chair, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

EDWARD J. BOUWER, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

YU-PING CHIN, Ohio State University, Columbus

DAVID A. DZOMBAK, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh

M. SIOBHAN FENNESSY, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio

BEN GRUMBLES, Clean Water America Alliance, Washington, D.C.

GEORGE R. HALLBERG, The Cadmus Group, Watertown, Massachusetts

CATHERINE L. KLING, Iowa State University, Ames

DEBRA S. KNOPMAN, RAND Corporation, Arlington, Virginia

LARRY LARSON, Association of State Floodplain Managers, Madison, Wisconsin

RITA P. MAGUIRE, Maguire & Pearce PLLC, Phoenix, Arizona

DAVID I. MAURSTAD, OST, Inc., McLean, Virginia

ROBERT SIMONDS, The Robert Simonds Company, Culver City, California

FRANK H. STILLINGER, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

GEORGE VALENTIS, Veolia Institute, Paris, France

MARYLYNN V. YATES, University of California, Riverside

JAMES W. ZIGLAR, SR., Van Ness Feldman, Washington, D.C.

Staff

JEFFREY JACOBS, Director

LAURA J. EHLERS, Senior Program Officer

STEPHANIE E. JOHNSON, Senior Program Officer

M. JEANNE AQUILINO, Financial and Administrative Associate

MICHAEL J. STOEVER, Research Associate

ANITA A. HALL, Senior Program Associate

SARAH E. BRENNAN, Senior Program Assistant

BRENDAN R. McGOVERN, Senior Program Assitant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Reducing Coastal Risk on the East and Gulf Coasts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18811.
×

OCEAN STUDIES BOARD

ROBERT A. DUCE, Chair, Texas A&M University, College Station

E. VIRGINIA ARMBRUST, University of Washington, Seattle

KEVIN R. ARRIGO, Stanford University, Stanford, California

CLAUDIA BENITEZ-NELSON, University of South Carolina, Columbia

EDWARD A. BOYLE, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

RITA R. COLWELL, University of Maryland, College Park

SARAH W. COOKSEY, State of Delaware, Dover

CORTIS K. COOPER, Chevron Corporation, San Ramon, California

ROBERT HALLBERG, NOAA/GFDL and Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

DAVID HALPERN, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

SUSAN E. HUMPHRIS, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts

BONNIE J. MCCAY, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

STEVEN A. MURAWSKI, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

JOHN A. ORCUTT, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California

H. TUBA ÖZKAN-HALLER, Oregon State University, Corvallis

STEVEN E. RAMBERG, Penn State Applied Research Lab, Washington, D.C.

MARTIN D. SMITH, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

MARGARET SPRING, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California

DON WALSH, International Maritime Incorporated, Myrtle Point, Oregon

DOUGLAS WARTZOK, Florida International University, Miami

LISA D. WHITE, University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco State University

Ex-Officio

MARY (MISSY) H. FEELEY, ExxonMobil Exploration Company, Houston, Texas

Staff

SUSAN ROBERTS, Board Director

CLAUDIA MENGELT, Senior Program Officer

DEBORAH GLICKSON, Senior Program Officer

CONSTANCE KARRAS, Research Associate

PAMELA LEWIS, Administrative Coordinator

SHUBHA BANSKOTA, Financial Associate

PAYTON KULINA, Program Assistant

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Acknowledgments

Many individuals assisted the committee and the National Research Council staff in their task to create this report. We would like to express our appreciation to the following people who have provided presentations to the committee.

Holly Bamford, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Robert Banks, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Doug Bellomo, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Lynn Bocamazo, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Candida Bronson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Bruce Carlson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Craig Colten, Water Institute of the Gulf

Sarah Cooksey, Delaware Coastal Programs

Stephen DeLoach, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Gerry Galloway, University of Maryland

John Haines, USGS Coastal and Marine Program Coordinator

Roselle Henn, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Carl Hershner, Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences

Keelin Kuipers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Michael Lindell, Texas A & M University

David Moser, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

James Murley, South Florida Regional Planning Council

Michael Park, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Lindene Patton, Zurich Insurance Group

Jim Pendergast, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Reducing Coastal Risk on the East and Gulf Coasts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18811.
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Tom Podany, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Rhonda Price, Mississippi Department of Marine Resources

Susan Rees, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

David Rosenblatt, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Tracie Sempier, Mississippi/Alabama Sea Grant

Michael Shelton, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Kate Skaggs, Maryland CoastSmart Communities

Steve Stockton, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Robert Young, Western Carolina University

Dan Zarrilli, New York City’s Director of Resiliency

Jerome Zeringue, Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Reducing Coastal Risk on the East and Gulf Coasts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18811.
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Preface

Coastal regions of the United States are a desirable place to live, work, retire, and recreate. The Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts are home to major population and economic centers, port facilities, and military complexes. Current population growth in southeastern Atlantic and Gulf coastal counties is nearly twice that of the national average. However, these same coasts are subject to impact by some of the most powerful storms on Earth and the destructive potential of these events is increasing due to climate change and relative sea-level rise. High-consequence, low-frequency hazards pose a significant challenge for preemptive decision making because of a lack of personal experience that many have with these events and the probability that an event may not occur during a meaningful time horizon, which may range from a political election cycle to an individual’s lifetime. Even though, nationally, we have dealt with significant environmental impact, loss of life, economic devastation, and social disruption from several coastal storms in the past decade, it remains difficult for most coastal residents to fully comprehend the risk of living in these areas. Thus it is challenging for governmental institutions to devote scarce resources to provide protection or forego revenue-generating potential by limiting development in valuable coastal areas to address risk. This behavior is exacerbated when, as a compassionate nation, we rally each time a disaster strikes and provide resources for post-disaster recovery that far exceed those we are willing to provide to manage risk.

The population and economic growth, increase in hazards, unwillingness to proactively manage risk, and pattern of providing substantial post-disaster aid are all contributing to an increase in our risk from coastal natural hazards over time and especially our risk of major impacts due to these events. However, the relatively infrequent nature of coastal natural

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Reducing Coastal Risk on the East and Gulf Coasts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18811.
×

hazards means that increases in risk today may not manifest themselves in major negative consequences until well into the future. Thus, in many cases we are passing these accumulating disaster-related burdens on to our children and grandchildren.

Given the existing investment, strategic importance, and intrinsic desirability of living in coastal areas, it is unrealistic to believe that we will abandon most of these areas in the foreseeable future. However, living in these areas in a sustainable manner necessitates that we move away from the current disjointed and largely reactive approach to dealing with coastal natural hazards and instead develop a more systematic, proactive approach to managing the risk associated with living in coastal areas.

This study was undertaken as part of a broad 5-year effort to provide advice to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a range of scientific, engineering, and water resources planning issues. Two prior reports issued under this program are National Water Resources Challenges Facing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (NRC, 2011b) and Corps of Engineers Water Resources Infrastructure: Deterioration, Investment, or Divestment? (NRC, 2012a). The current study addresses coastal risk reduction, specifically focusing on reducing flood risks from coastal storm surges along the East and Gulf Coasts. This report and its conclusions are the result of diligent efforts by 13 committee members and 4 National Research Council (NRC) staff representing a diverse range of scientific and engineering expertise. The committee reviewed a large quantity of technical literature; received briefings from multiple federal and state agencies, academic researchers, and members of the private sector (see Acknowledgments); and held lively discussions in meetings that occurred five times over an 8-month period. Three meetings were held in Washington, D.C., one in Mobile, Alabama, and one in Newark, New Jersey. We are particularly indebted to Mr. Bruce Carlson who served as the liaison between the committee and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and responded to numerous requests for information and clarification during this study. During the course of the discussions and report preparation, it became clear that assessing, communicating, and managing risk in coastal areas are very challenging concepts even for a committee of experts in coastal science and engineering. I greatly appreciate the time and effort that each committee member invested in trying to understand and synthesize this complex issue and the collegiality, patience, and good humor that members exhibited throughout.

The committee and, particularly, the committee chair are extremely grateful to the NRC staff who supported this study: Stephanie Johnson, Study Director; Deborah Glickson, Senior Program Officer; Anita Hall, Senior Program Associate; and Sarah Brennan, Program Assistant. Stephanie orchestrated the study for the NRC, which was especially challenging given its rapid time line and the diverse set of issues that were involved. Her te-

Page xiii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. Reducing Coastal Risk on the East and Gulf Coasts. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18811.
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nacity, deftness finding information and references, skill separating “wheat from chaff,” ability to synthesize complex subjects, and management style were outstanding. Deborah provided a very helpful complement to Stephanie in terms of her perspective on the issues and help shouldering the load associated with this accelerated study. Anita provided excellent administrative and logistical support for the meetings and production of the final report, with assistance near the end of the study from Sarah. This report would not have been possible without their collective skills and extensive efforts; I know the entire committee joins me in expressing our profound appreciation for their contributions.

This report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their breadth of perspectives and technical expertise in accordance with the procedures approved by the National Academies’ Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review was to provide candid and critical comments to assist the institution in ensuring that its published report is scientifically credible and that it meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The reviewer comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the deliberative process. We thank the following reviewers for their helpful suggestions, all of which were considered and many of which were wholly or partly incorporated in the final report: Brian Atwater, University of Washington; Michael Beck, The Nature Conservancy; Rudolph Bonaparte (NAE), Geosyntec Consultants, Inc.; Robin Dillon-Merrill, Georgetown University; Jenifer Dugan, University of California; Billy Edge, North Carolina State University; Gerald Galloway, University of Maryland, College Park; Charles Groat, The Water Institute of the Gulf; Jennifer Irish, Virginia Tech; Jim Johnson, Independent Consultant, Columbia, MD; Sandra Knight, University of Maryland, College Park; Mark Mauriello, Edgewood Properties; and Adam Rose, University of Southern California.

Although these reviewers provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions and recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by John Boland, Johns Hopkins University and Michael Goodchild, University of California, Santa Barbara. Appointed by the NRC, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments received full consideration. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the NRC.

Richard A. Luettich, Jr., Chair
Committee on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources
Science, Engineering, and Planning: Coastal Risk Reduction

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Hurricane- and coastal-storm-related losses have increased substantially during the past century, largely due to increases in population and development in the most susceptible coastal areas. Climate change poses additional threats to coastal communities from sea level rise and possible increases in strength of the largest hurricanes. Several large cities in the United States have extensive assets at risk to coastal storms, along with countless smaller cities and developed areas. The devastation from Superstorm Sandy has heightened the nation's awareness of these vulnerabilities. What can we do to better prepare for and respond to the increasing risks of loss?

Reducing Coastal Risk on the East and Gulf Coasts reviews the coastal risk-reduction strategies and levels of protection that have been used along the United States East and Gulf Coasts to reduce the impacts of coastal flooding associated with storm surges. This report evaluates their effectiveness in terms of economic return, protection of life safety, and minimization of environmental effects. According to this report, the vast majority of the funding for coastal risk-related issues is provided only after a disaster occurs. This report calls for the development of a national vision for coastal risk management that includes a long-term view, regional solutions, and recognition of the full array of economic, social, environmental, and life-safety benefits that come from risk reduction efforts. To support this vision, Reducing Coastal Risk states that a national coastal risk assessment is needed to identify those areas with the greatest risks that are high priorities for risk reduction efforts. The report discusses the implications of expanding the extent and levels of coastal storm surge protection in terms of operation and maintenance costs and the availability of resources.

Reducing Coastal Risk recommends that benefit-cost analysis, constrained by acceptable risk criteria and other important environmental and social factors, be used as a framework for evaluating national investments in coastal risk reduction. The recommendations of this report will assist engineers, planners and policy makers at national, regional, state, and local levels to move from a nation that is primarily reactive to coastal disasters to one that invests wisely in coastal risk reduction and builds resilience among coastal communities.

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