2006 Philadelphia Annual Meeting (22–25 October 2006)

Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 11:05 AM


YOUNG, Robert S., Dept. of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723 and BUSH, David M., Department of Geosciences, University of West Georgia, Carrollton, GA 30118, ryoung@wcu.edu

Over the last 20-30 years, scientists, led primarily by the geological community, have built a general consensus for understanding the controls on coastal hazards and hazard vulnerability. This work has led to a clear, though qualitative enumeration of the geomorphological factors which control the intensity of coastal storm processes: elevation, dune height and volume, vegetation, proximity to inlets, gross coastal geomorphology and type, nearshore bathymetric control. Many groups have translated this scientific understanding into maps indicating coastal areas susceptible to flooding, storm surge wave attack, coastal erosion, and ultimately, overall coastal hazards. Controls on the cross-shore distribution of storm energy are complex, and the above factors interact in ways that may be impossible to predict. We have made preliminary attempts to rank the importance of the various coastal “risk factors', but this work is ongoing. One result of this complexity is that establishing fine gradations of susceptibility to hazards along the coast is difficult. The various methods used for mapping the susceptibility to coastal hazards typically have difficulty agreeing on the boundary between moderate and high hazard, but achieve substantial consensus on the end members— particularly those areas of extremely high hazard. We believe that for these particularly vulnerable areas the time is right for translating solid science into policy and management. There are many sections of the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts that have experienced repeated storm surge penetration and overwash, even with small storms. The US Congress should establish a scientific advisory panel to identify these vulnerable shoreline areas, and subsequent federal funds for infrastructure rebuilding should be withdrawn from those communities. If local property owners choose to rebuild, it should be at their own risk and cost. Details of this plan will be presented followed by ample time for discussion.