Bridging the gap on coastal hazards

Climate change is rapidly causing serious economic, social and environmental impacts on coastlines around the globe.

With extreme weather events, sea-level rise and rising temperatures posing critical threats to ecosystems and communities, scientific research has become vital for responding and developing innovative solutions.

The FIU Institute of Environment hosted an NSF Coastlines and People (CoPe) virtual workshop on Coastal Observation and Modeling Systems to bridge data gaps and develop solutions to these coastal threats.

Virtual CoPe workshop

More than 100 national experts and practitioners came together with the goal of defining gaps in science and the interoperability of observational systems and models. They discussed observations and models associated with biophysical, social-behavioral and economic systems in vulnerable coastal regions.

Jayantha Obeysekera, director of Sea Level Solutions, lead the workshop alongside organizing committee members Tiffany Troxler, Michael Sukop and Sparkle Malone, who moderated 16 presentations which were divided into four sessions:

  1. Behavioral/Social Science Observations and Models
  2. Economic Observations and Models
  3. Biophysical Observations and Models
  4. Interoperability of Models and Observatory Systems Associated with Coastal Regions

Within each session, speakers from across the nation discussed the importance of each coastal system to predict and mitigate climatic hazards. From understanding human behavior to exploring the economy of the ocean, each speaker provided insightful data on improving coastal hazard resiliency, the work being done and ways to create a safer environment to communities.

Todd Crowl, director of the Institute of Environment and the workshop’s keynote speaker, provided participants with real-life examples to show the importance of integrating all the systems to create real change. One example he shared was the unprecedented fish kills and algal blooms recently seen in Biscayne Bay.

This was the beginning of an ongoing discussion with nongovernmental, local and federal entities on the formulation of a comprehensive coastal observatory. More information, presentations and a full recording of the workshop are available on the event webpage.