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Coastal Decision-making Tools

25 August 2011, 6:19 pm

coastal flooding

Coastal Decision-making Tools

  • Is this area vulnerable to erosion and therefore not a safe place to build a road? What would be the most effective way to restore this coastal marsh back to its original state? How can we grow our community without hurting water quality? Balancing the use of resources in coastal areas with their protection requires good tools and information to make good decisions. To help state and local coastal resource managers make the best decisions, NOS provides training, data and information, management strategies, and technology.

  • Going Coastal. Live near the coast? You aren't alone. Over half of all Americans live in coastal states. And each year, more people flock to our nation's coast. With them comes more development—new homes, businesses, roads. These things enrich the economy, but they also place pressure on the environment, potentially diminishing the aesthetic and economic value of living in a coastal area. NOS works to deliver tools to help balance the health of our coasts with the health of our economy.

  • Educating New Leaders. The students of today will be the leaders of tomorrow. NOS invests in training these future leaders through programs such as the Coastal Management Fellowship Program. Under the Program, postgraduate students in the field of coastal resource management spend two years working for a state coastal management program. The students bring new expertise to the state efforts, and the fellows receive valuable work experience.

  • The Written WordThe sharing of ideas is fundamental to any innovation. Coastal Services, a bimonthly trade magazine for coastal managers, showcases innovative ways in which state coastal programs address the many issues that confront them, bringing new ideas to coastal resource management programs. Online newsletters, such as MPA Connections or Coastal Management News, are other ways in which NOS brings information directly to the people who need it, keeping them informed and engaged.

  • A View from Above Remote sensing involves the use of satellites, aircraft, and other devices to gather information about land and water. NOS provides remote sensing data, including land cover, topography, and ocean-floor habitat data, to state coastal programs. NOS scientists also use remotely sensed data to develop other tools and services, such as coastal maps, disaster response, harmful algal bloom analysis, coastal ecosystem monitoring, and nautical charts.

  • Map it Out. Geographic information systems (GIS) are mapping tools used to integrate, store, edit, analyze, share, and display geographic information. NOS provides a variety of GIS data products to the coastal management community, ranging from digital shoreline data, hurricane information, and watershed mapping projects. Other GIS tools include environmental sensitivity index maps, which help assess contamination risk, and data used to characterize coastal zone habitats.

  • Smart Growth Bounded by water, coastal communities must make use of limited land while protecting natural resources from the effects of population growth and development. NOS, in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency, the International City/County Management Association, and Rhode Island Sea Grant, developed a guide and Web site to help officials make coastal “smart growth” decisions that balance use and enjoyment of coastal areas with conservation.

Original article: Coastal Decision-making Tools