Coastal Resilience

Strengthen coastal community resilience and advance stewardship of coastal natural and cultural resources by engaging in research related to the interconnections of people and natural and built environments

For a number of reasons, research on Arctic coastal areas is particularly complex and cross-cutting. Coastal areas comprise the nexus of marine, terrestrial, and freshwater systems and are home to the majority of Arctic human communities. Arctic coastlines are already experiencing climate change impacts such as flooding and coastal erosion, including some of the highest shoreline erosion rates in the United States: most of Alaska’s northern coast is retreating at rates of more than 1m per year (Gibbs and Richmond 2015).

Many issues specific to the Arctic coastal zone are related to human coastal communities: culture, food security, safety, increased commercial activity, infrastructure, biodiversity, and physical and biological processes. To provide the critical knowledge required to navigate decision-making and to inform policy regarding this distinctive geography, research on the interconnections between Arctic people and their natural and built coastal environments is necessary. Thus, Arctic coastal areas offer rich research opportunities at the confluence of social, engineering, and biological and physical sciences. Understanding gained from the research will advance Well-being, Stewardship, and Security in the region.

Already, research coordination among multiple groups is taking place from local to international scales, and the Coastal Goal builds on and strengthens that work. Under the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, the Federal government has been leading an international effort with multiple collaborators, including groups that represent Indigenous coastal communities, to build a framework for resilience to rapid changes in the Arctic. Research into coastal physical processes, coastal inundation, and improved mapping data will support the work of the Denali Commission, which is working with the Arctic Executive Steering Committee Community Resilience Working Group to facilitate relocation of coastal villages, necessitated by considerable coastal erosion and increased storm surges in Alaska. Phenology and biodiversity monitoring and modeling research will strengthen scenarios to help identify future research and monitoring needs undertaken by State-Federal partnerships such as NSSI. The Alaska Climate Change Executive Roundtable (ACCER), which regularly discusses the role of science in understanding the ecological impacts of climate change to the built environment, will benefit from research into physical coastal processes and enhanced observational data. Additionally, LCCs in Arctic coastal areas are actively engaging communities in research by convening workshops to learn about issues impacting their landscapes and to support community-based monitoring.

All steps of research—developing priorities and deliverables, designing projects, conducting research, disseminating results, and collaborating on deliverables—benefit from engaging community members. Collaboration and engagement enable meaningful research among community members, IK holders, LK holders, and interagency researchers. The process of sharing research results with communities using approaches compatible with the needs and wants of the community is a critical aspect of building community engagement.

The work focuses on the following objectives

Learn more about the Coastal Resilience Collaboration Team implementing this section of the plan.

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Join scientists from Federal, State, academic, NGO, and industry organizations working to accelerate the progress of Arctic research.

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