The NOAA Coastal Services Center provides skills and information resources to state and local resource managers. Focus areas include hazards, habitats, sustainable communities, and data information access and usability.
Center highlights from fiscal year 2010 include:
- Continued Growth and Benefits from Digital Coast
The successful NOAA-led initiative, the Digital Coast, which provides data along with the related tools, training, and information to turn these data into useful information, added a significant new member in fiscal year 2010, the American Planning Association, an organization that represents 40,000 planners and officials at the elected level. The Digital Coast Website includes access to 24 national-level data sets, 35 geospatial tools, 12 training courses, and over 50 case studies. Over the past year more than 69,000 users have accessed the Digital Coast site, an increase of almost 300 percent over the previous year. Over the next ten years, the use of the Digital Coast is expected to result in $26.5 million of benefits to more than 450,000 users.
New additions to the effort in 2010 include the Coastal Inundation Toolkit, which provides resources that range from inundation and risk assessment basics to detailed technical guidance on inundation mapping methods. Another popular addition is the Coastal County Snapshots, a means of providing easy-to-understand hazard information for local officials.
Using Social Science to Support Coastal Decision Making
Understanding the people side of coastal management is an important priority for officials charged with balancing the competitive demands society places on coastal resources. NOAA is providing the leadership needed to engage social science in this task.
One of the most far reaching and successful initiatives is the development of a new contract that makes it easier for NOAA and other government agencies to use social science professionals from the private sector. Experienced social scientists from NOAA helped develop statements of work that tap into the expertise of two prime contractors and more than twenty subcontractors. Social science tools now readily available to these organizations include economic, demographic, and social network analyses; needs and social assessments; and evaluation tools and methods (including focus group design and implementation, nonmarket valuation, risk communication, and community-based social marketing). In fiscal year 2010, twelve task orders were developed. Highlights from these include information about the social and economic effects of shoreline change; risk communication as needed to implement coastal resiliency initiatives; and stakeholder engagement and collaboration in marine spatial planning and the use of marine spatial planning tools.
Social science expertise from the Center also played an important role in understanding the social and economic implications of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, improving the nation’s understanding of the value of ecosystem services, and monitoring indicators of ocean and coastal contributions to the nation’s economy and well-being.
- New Products Help Nation Prepare for Climate Change
NOAA has developed a number of new products to help coastal managers prepare for climate change. First, Local Strategies for Addressing Climate Change, Volume 2, is the second in a series of publications that showcases examples of the tools, programs, and projects that local and state coastal managers already have in place to address climate change. Second, the NOAA Climate Services Portal delivers NOAA’s extensive climate and information resources, including videos and data, to a variety of audiences. Finally, the Coastal Climate Adaptation Website provides easy-to-understand climate change science information and examples of the various strategies communities are employing.
- Land Cover Atlas Makes Coastal Land Cover Data Easily Accessible
Satellite-based land cover data represent one of the most frequently used datasets by the nation’s coastal managers because it provides the big picture coastal view of wetlands, development, golf courses, forest lands, and all other categories of land cover. The Land Cover Atlas is an online data viewer released in 2010 by the Center that greatly increases the ease in which this data can be obtained. The atlas eliminates the need for GIS software, or advanced technical expertise. Furthermore, the tool assists with data processing by summarizing general trends (e.g., forest loss or new development) and highlighing specific changes of interest (e.g., salt marsh losses to open water, or agriculture losses to development). Land cover data from the Center is available online.
- Suite of High-Resolution Land Cover Data is a First for U.S. Virgin Islands and Pacific Island Territories
A collection of high-resolution land cover data products has been released for the U.S. Virgin Islands of St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John as well as the Pacific Island territories of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa. These inventories are the first of their kind for these territories and are being used to address land use planning and water quality issues in the face of climate change and rapid development. The Center developed these data through its Coastal Change Analysis Program. The data is available online.
- Training Coastal Communities to Meet Today’s Challenges
NOAA provides a number of courses that help coastal professionals acquire the new information, skills, and tools needed to improve coastal zone management. In fiscal year 2010, more than 1,400 coastal professionals from over 40 different states, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Virgin Islands attended various classroom trainings hosted by the Center. Courses focused on a variety of topics, including stakeholder engagement, designing effective projects, coastal inundation, conservation, and marine spatial planning. A review of post-course evaluations revealed exceptionally positive feedback with 97 percent reporting that their time was well spent, and 96 percent reporting achievement of the learning objectives.
- Community “Roadmap” for Adapting to Coastal Risk
In conjunction with state and local partners, the Center developed a process that helps communities undertake a hazard and climate vulnerability assessment. The associated training shows community participants how local planning and decision-making efforts can begin the process of addressing hazards and climate threats. Participants learn how to characterize community exposure to hazards and climate threats, explore how this characterization can inform local planning and implementation activities, and discover resources that can help their communities address coastal risk. Technical services provided through this process include support for mapping efforts, stakeholder engagement, and workshop facilitation.
- Coastal Geospatial Services Contract Prepares for New Term
A NOAA contracting vehicle is making it easy for government entities to get the geospatial data and services needed to address coastal resource management issues. The Coastal Geospatial Services Contract from the Center is in the second iteration of a five-year contract initially awarded in 2006. The new five-year term, to begin in fiscal year 2011, will have a $70 million ceiling, and will include four prime contractors and over 80 subcontractors, all with specific experience and capacity to provide geospatial services in the complex coastal zones around the United States.
- Incorporating Hazards and Climate Change into the Ka‘ū Community Development Plan in Hawaii
NOAA’s Pacific Services Center helped the Hawaiian community of Ka‘ū create a community hazard risk profile, which led to the incorporation of district level natural hazard risk and climate change information into their community development plan. This information makes it easier for planners and community members to identify future risks and incorporate resiliency decisions into their planning and local decision making. Lessons learned and guidance documents will support a similar process in other communities.