President initially retained historically low 15,000-person limit set by Trump administration
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In our respective roles we are bringing together some of the best minds in the country to coordinate research and development (R&D) on energy and minerals. Together, the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are improving energy integration, affordability, and diversity, and providing Americans with secure and reliable energy and mineral resources. Energy is at the heart of American life, and the need for affordable domestic energy has never been greater. As indicated by DOE’s 2019 report, GeoVision: Harnessing the Heat Beneath Our Feet, one key opportunity to support this need is through the use of geothermal energy. USGS’s own national-scale geothermal assessment estimates that more than 30 GWe of undiscovered conventional geothermal resources exist in the United States – enough to power more than 20 million households. First, we need to locate and harness these renewable sources of energy. Likewise, minerals are fundamental for sustaining our advanced economy. Our country faces an important challenge in finding ways to improve domestic availability of critical minerals such as lithium. In 2018, DOI issued a list of 35 mineral commodities that are essential to our nation’s economy and security, and in 2019, the Administration published A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals. This strategy directed DOE, DOI, and other agencies to identify new sources of mineral resources, explore innovative methods of producing and recycling them, and partner with state, academic, and industry experts to support the economic security and national defense of the United States. DOE and DOI have partnered before on these important topics. DOE’s Play Fairway Analysis (PFA) used USGS data to help reduce exploration risk by locating and qualifying such resources. Leveraged from the oil and gas industry, PFA has proved successful at targeting undiscovered geothermal resources in several geologically favorable regions across the western United States. Now, we plan on bringing our joint expertise to bear in the Silver State. A geologic map of Nevada, showing the GeoDAWN project area with Federal and tribal lands marked. (Public domain.) The Partnership – Leveraging Data for Combined Benefits A recent interagency agreement—Geoscience Data Acquisition for Western Nevada (GeoDAWN)—unites EERE’s Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO) with the USGS Earth Mapping Resource Initiative (Earth MRI) and 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) to help provide solutions to meet U.S. needs for both energy and critical minerals. Under the GeoDAWN collaboration, researchers will gather new subsurface data specifically in the Walker Lane geologic zone in western Nevada. Nevada sits at the heart of the Basin and Range, an area marked by striking geologic features including an array of narrow, high-capped ridges and plateaus interspersed among dozens of dry sloping valleys. The area of focus is highly prospective for geothermal resources—Nevada is second only to California in geothermal energy production and capacity—and offers a legacy of producing mined and refined ores. At or near the surface, where Earth MRI research is conducted, sediments and clays can contain significant quantities of critical materials. GeoDAWN researchers will leverage machine learning applied to data collection from this area that is rich in both geothermal and mineral resources to develop deeper understanding of the geologic conditions and stress regime that gives rise to these resources. These geophysical data will thus be utilized for dual objectives—locating undiscovered geothermal resources while also identifying critical mineral deposits that can be mined for domestic use. Walker Lane (shown here) is a geologic trough that aligns with the border between California and Nevada. Its subsurface characteristics are of particular interest to GTO and USGS researchers. (Image courtesy of University of Nevada-Reno) Innovative Research and Added Benefits The datasets acquired under the GeoDAWN collaboration will form the basis for innovative machine learning that can enhance the ability to remotely characterize the subsurface. The massive scale of the study area and the large datasets that will be captured will enable the application of a variety of advanced machine learning techniques to the problem of locating subsurface resources. This will include a high-resolution aeromagnetic survey, where low-flying aircraft equipped with magnetometers detect and measure anomalies in the Earth’s magnetic field that correspond with regional subsurface structures; and lidar collection, wherein a detailed 3D model of the Earth’s topography is formed by scanning the surface from an aircraft with a pulsating laser and analyzing the return signal. These techniques allow researchers to see and analyze faults where they intersect the surface and to detect patterns in subsurface electromagnetic properties that may indicate conditions that are favorable for geothermal and/or mineral resources. This data collection will further strengthen the Earth MRI initiative, a partnership that includes state geological surveys and industry to generate state-of-the-art geologic mapping, geophysical surveys, and lidar data to improve knowledge of the geologic framework underlying the United States. The lidar data, in particular, will contribute to the 3DEP goal to complete acquisition of nationwide lidar by 2023. This will provide the first ever national baseline of consistent high-resolution elevation data—both bare earth and 3D point clouds—in a timeframe of less than a decade. This collaborative work furthermore aligns with GTO’s mission to reduce the risks and costs associated with geothermal exploration and production, as well as with DOE’s broader strategic commitment to provide complementary assessments of critical and strategic minerals. The data could also benefit other U.S. industries—especially mining, agriculture, and oil and gas—and can provide deeper understanding of the origin and evolution of mineral, energy, and water resources across a sizable portion of the western United States. As GeoDAWN gathers momentum, we look forward to new discoveries and opportunities. We plan to provide periodic updates to interested stakeholders as we work together to strengthen American energy and critical mineral independence. We are actively expanding partnerships across other federal agencies with a connection or interest in subsurface resources. This agreement and alignment of our federal departments and agencies enhances our understanding of geologic conditions and data, expanding our opportunities to bolster America’s economy, workforce, and resource independence. The original blog post can be found here.
A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration assessment of severe weather and climate event costs found that, on average, droughts and floods cost about $9.5 billion and $4.3 billion per event, respectively. On April 10, USGS hydrographer Josh Sundberg measures Red River water flowing over the road in East Grand Forks, Minnesota as flood protection walls prevent further flooding.(Credit: Peter Goettsch, USGS. Public domain.) Taking the Pulse on the Nation’s Water The USGS nationwide streamgage network provides emergency managers with real-time information to monitor floodwaters across the nation. The data collected by about 11,300 gages across the country provide vital information to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal, state and local agencies, enabling them to make river forecasts, operate flood control structures and make important emergency management decisions. Keeping Communities Safe USGS science information helps safeguard communities during water-related severe weather or climate events. USGS science and data help to minimize the loss of life and property due to hazards by supporting flood forecasting, informing drought and post-fire conditions, and monitoring floods, debris flows and storm surge during hurricanes and other low-pressure systems and tsunamis. During flood events, USGS crews are deployed into the field to verify flood data and collect additional measurements needed by partners. Coming Soon – A New Map (or App) for Flood Preparedness When water levels are rising, it can be hard to quickly get all the information you need about your area, especially when you’re not in front of a computer. In the coming weeks, the USGS will be releasing a new cutting-edge map that will provide critical current water information and NWS forecast information at your fingertips on a desktop, smartphone or other mobile device. Now you don’t have to search multiple sources when you want the latest information on floods and droughts, or when you’re just deciding your next recreation destination. The upcoming USGS National Water Dashboard presents real-time stream, lake and reservoir, precipitation and groundwater data for more than 13,500 USGS real-time observation stations across the country. This information is shown along with weather data such as radar, watches and warnings, past precipitation totals, precipitation forecasts and drought conditions from other sources. The NWD will also link to the USGS WaterAlert system, which sends out instant, customized updates about water conditions. Deploying Equipment Before a Flood If flooding is expected due to a hurricane or tropical storm, USGS field crews will deploy to the storm’s projected path along the coast to install special water-level measuring instruments called storm-tide sensors. These sensors record data that track storm tides and coastal flooding. This information helps USGS and NOAA scientists improve forecast models. It also helps relief efforts by FEMA and other federal, state and local agencies by pinpointing the areas hardest hit by storm-tide flooding. Storm-tide sensor information can also help engineers design structures to better withstand floods and assess how well dunes and wetlands reduce storm damage. It can help inform land-use practices and building codes, which can lead to more resilient coastal communities. USGS crews may also install rapid-deployment gages at locations that are not monitored year-round like permanent streamgages but are at risk of flooding due to an approaching storm. These RDGs provide real-time information on water levels, precipitation, wind speed, humidity and barometric pressure to assist emergency managers tracking floodwaters. RDGs can be quickly installed at critical locations to augment the USGS streamgage network. You can track storm-tide sensor and RDG deployments and view past storms on the USGS Flood Event Viewer and see USGS streamgage readings in real time on both the viewer and the USGS National Water Information System. USGS scientists measures a high-water mark. Credit: USGS, public domain. How High Did the Water Reach? After the floodwaters subside, the USGS starts the extensive effort of finding high-water marks. During a flood event, rising waters are loaded with floating debris, seeds and dirt that can stick to buildings, trees or other structures. Once floodwaters recede from their highest peak, the line of debris left behind is a high-water mark and it can indicate to scientists the highest point the flood reached. But, these marks are fragile and easily destroyed – both by people cleaning up and by natural weathering – so collecting them is a time-sensitive effort. After most major floods, the USGS partners with FEMA, USACE, NWS and other agencies to identify high-water marks throughout the affected areas. Depending on where these high-water marks are located, they can be used for a variety of purposes, like improving computer models used for predicting the severity of future floods. One of the most important uses of high-water-mark data is so FEMA can revise their flood hazard maps. These maps help identify areas that are likely to experience high water in the event of a flood that has a 1% chance of happening in any given year. These floods, often referred to as 100-year floods, are the most common severe inundation events and serve as the foundation for flood management planning. Another significant use for these high-water marks is the USGS Flood Inundation Mapping effort. These maps are developed using models that incorporate high-water marks, streamgage and storm surge information. The maps can be used by resource managers to assist in updating building codes, verifying safe evacuation routes, bridge design, environmental assessments and other community planning efforts. Drought ruined soybean crop in Sumter County, Georgia by Alan Cressler. Credit: USGS, Public domain. A Flood of Information – Even During Drought Agricultural crops can wither in a flash when the days turn hot, the air dries, the rain stops and moisture evaporates quickly from the soil. The early warning Quick Drought Response Index, or QuickDRI, can help alert managers and others as drought conditions occur. QuickDRI serves as a weekly drought alarm, providing an indicator of emerging or rapidly changing drought conditions. Like its companion Vegetation Drought Response Index, or VegDRI, which portrays drought’s effect on vegetation conditions, QuickDRI relies on a number of remotely-sensed indicators. Decades of satellite data housed at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science, or EROS, Center provide a resource for assessing abnormal vegetation and climate conditions over a longer historical period. However, VegDRI is a seasonal drought indicator. For faster-moving droughts, QuickDRI was developed to detect drought’s effects much more quickly. Looking Towards the Future As the Atlantic Coast prepares for upcoming storms and the West experiences drought, the USGS will continue to provide data to help resource managers plan for the future. Stay up-to-date on water conditions in your local area by visiting the USGS WaterWatch website. You can also sign up for high-water alerts through USGS WaterAlert. Flood and Drought Resources For more information please visit these websites: USGS Flood Information—Information about current and past flooding USGS WaterAlert – Sends email or text messages from the USGS streamgage of your choice USGS WaterWatch— Provides current USGS water data for the nation Monitoring Vegetation Drought Stress – Provides resources for drought response index
USGS: Start with Science The USGS works with many partners to monitor, assess, and conduct research on a wide range of natural hazards. USGS science provides policymakers, emergency managers, and the public the understanding needed to enhance family and community preparedness, response, and resilience. By identifying potential hazards and using USGS hazards science, federal, state, and local agencies can mitigate risk. In addition, USGS science can inform planning for major infrastructure investments and strengthen private property standards and materials, which help make homes and communities more resilient to natural hazards. While everyone should be aware of the hazards that are most prevalent in their community, the annual National Preparedness Month is a great time to learn about all hazards. Two of the lesser-known hazards for most Americans – but which can occur almost anywhere – are landslides and sinkholes. Landslides Landslides occur in all fifty states and every U.S. territory, and cause the loss of life and billions of dollars in damage to public and private property annually. The USGS Landslide Hazard program (LHP) is dedicated to understanding how and why these events occur and how best to make informed assessments of the hazard to inform communities that may be at risk, ultimately helping to save lives and property, and to support the economic well-being of American communities. Diagram of deep-seated landslide, from USGS Fact Sheet 3004–3072, “Landslide Types and Processes.” (Public domain.) Landslide processes and characteristics, such as size, distance travelled, trigger, and speed can vary tremendously, and these differences make understanding landslide events challenging. USGS scientists work to assess where, when, and how often landslides occur and how fast and far they might travel. The following examples of recent landslide research by the USGS LHP show how our scientists provide reliable scientific information to minimize the loss of life, infrastructure, and property. United States Landslide Inventory Map – Our understanding of landslide hazards at the national scale is limited because landslide information across the U.S. is incomplete, varies in quality, and is not accessible in a single location. In order to fix these obstacles, USGS scientists produced a website that marks an important step toward mapping areas that could be at higher risk for future landslides. In collaboration with state geological surveys and other Federal agencies, USGS has compiled much of the existing landslide data into a searchable, web-based interactive map called the U.S. Landslide Inventory Map. This database is an important first step to helping assess where, when, and how often landslides occur in the United States. Oso Landslide 3D Elevation example screenshot from the USGS 3D Elevation Program (3DEP). (Public domain.) Barry Arm Landslide, Prince William Sound, Alaska – In May of this year, the Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys (ADGGS) alerted nearby communities and businesses about the possibility of a large landslide at the tip of the Barry Glacier in the Prince William Sound of Alaska that could enter the fiord and cause a potentially significant tsunami in the region. Annotated photo showing landslide areas of Barry Arm Fjord, Alaska. Subaerial landslides at the head of Barry Arm Fjord in southern Alaska could generate tsunamis (if they rapidly failed into the Fjord) and are therefore a potential threat to people, marine interests, and infrastructure throughout the Prince William Sound region. (Public domain.) USGS landslide geologists and remote-sensing experts coordinated with the Civil Applications Center and collected radar and optical imagery over the landslide, which revealed less than a few centimeters of landslide movement from late June to August of 2020. To complement these data, ADGGS collected high-resolution light detection and ranging (lidar) data and optical ortho-imagery (or imagery collected by remote sensors and then enhanced with geometric methods) of the landslide to get a more comprehensive picture of what is taking place in the area around the glacier. The interagency group continues to regularly meet and release data and information for the public. Post-Wildfire Debris-Flow Hazard Assessments: Glenwood Canyon, Colorado – In August of 2020, the Grizzly Creek Fire burned through steep terrain in Glenwood Canyon and closed Interstate 70, which is the main east-west transportation route through Colorado. This is near the location of the deadly 1994 South Canyon Fire and Storm King mountain, where debris flows in September 1994 swept vehicles off the road. A “debris flow” is a type of landslide that typically consists of a fast-moving mass of water, rock, soil, vegetation, and even boulders and trees, and can be very hazardous to infrastructure and public safety. USGS investigations into the 1994 event marked the beginning of coordinated efforts to provide what are called “post-fire debris-flow” hazard assessments. Emphasis on this specific type of landslide was the result of realizing that after a fire, certain conditions including burn severity, vegetation type, slope steepness, soil type, and, most significantly, the amount of post-fire rainfall can contribute to these highly destructive debris flows. Debris flows are one of the most dangerous hazards after a wildfire, and community awareness is critical. Grizzly Creek Fire (Colorado) Post-fire Debris-flow Hazard Map displays estimates of the likelihood of debris flow (in %), potential volume of debris flow (in m3), and combined relative debris flow hazard. These predictions are made at the scale of the drainage basin, and at the scale of the individual stream segment. Estimates of probability, volume, and combined hazard are based upon a design storm with a peak 15-minute rainfall intensity of 24 millimeters per hour (mm/h). Predictions may be viewed interactively by clicking on the button at the top right corner of the map displayed above. (Public domain.) Typically, after a forest fire is contained or nearly contained, the USGS LHP provides rapid assessments of post-fire debris-flow potential and size, in relation to estimates of triggering rainfall. These assessments support Federal, state, and local land and emergency response managers, homeowners, natural resource agencies, and other government agencies in identifying and potentially mitigating post-wildfire debris flows. Landslide hazard mapping and data are posted at the USGS Emergency Assessment of Post-Fire Debris-Flow Hazards website along with more than a dozen additional post-wildfire debris flow assessments for large fires across the country. For the Glenwood Canyon Fire, at the request of the U.S. Forest Service, and while the fire was still rapidly growing, the USGS delivered a “pre-fire” debris-flow hazard assessment for all of Glenwood Canyon, including portions that had not burned. USGS scientists collaborated with an interagency Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team, including the Natural Resources Conservation Service, USFS, and state agencies to produce these assessments. The maps were then used to inform fire operations staff of locations at potential risk for post-wildfire debris flows and to stage fire-fighting equipment and personnel. The USGS will also deliver a final post-fire debris flow assessment after the BAER team finalize their soil burn severity map, which is a key input to the overall hazard model. Sinkholes Every year, land subsidence and collapse – or “sinkholes” – causes significant damage to personal property and public infrastructure. By one estimate, the cost of sinkhole damage to the country is several hundred million dollars annually; however, sinkhole occurrences are often not reported, and the true cost is likely much higher. Photo 14 of 15: Remnants of community pool in sinkhole. View to east across the sinkhole. (Credit: Anthony S. Navoy, USGS. Public domain.) One of the more famous sinkhole events occurred on February 12th, 2014. A large sinkhole opened beneath the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky and damaged or destroyed eight cars. Although the property damage was substantial, the collapse occurred in the early morning while the museum was closed and fortunately no one was hurt. A much more tragic event occurred a year earlier. A man in Seffner, Florida, lost his life when a sinkhole opened beneath his house and swallowed him while he was in bed. What exactly is a sinkhole, and why do they occur? Sinkholes form when the land surface slowly subsides or collapses into pre-existing voids underground – essentially “air pockets” underneath the perceptibly “solid” ground we walk on every day. Such voids are often the result of movement and removal of sediments by water flow, a process known as piping. A sinkhole can occur as a result of natural processes or can be induced by human activities. Cover-collapse sinkholes Cover-collapse sinkholes may develop abruptly (over a period of hours) and cause catastrophic damages. They occur where the covering sediments contain a significant amount of clay. Over time, surface drainage, erosion, and deposition of sinkhole into a shallower bowl-shaped depression. ► Learn more about sinkholes (Public domain.) Some minerals, such as salt, limestone, or gypsum, in bedrock can dissolve slowly over time and leave open voids within the rock where groundwater flows. These areas are called karst and have characteristic landforms such as caves, sinking streams, and springs in addition to sinkholes. About twenty percent of the nation has the potential to host karst landscapes. In karst areas, the sediments overlying the bedrock are piped down into the bedrock voids and ultimately carried away by moving groundwater. The surface landforms are the result of voids in the bedrock formed by this process over long periods of geologic time, and as those sediments covering the bedrock are removed, subsidence occurs. The USGS produces geologic and subsurface maps that help managers and others to understand karst regions and identify local areas that may be susceptible to sinkholes. Where do sinkholes occur? Although there is not yet an effective method to predict where an individual sinkhole may occur, the USGS produces geologic maps that help to identify regions that may be susceptible to sinkhole formation. However, sinkholes can occur just about anywhere. It all depends on the subsurface geological composition and the characteristics of the area, i.e., type of unconsolidated and consolidated soils, infrastructure, and void dynamics. Map shows karst areas of the continental United States having sinkholes in soluble rocks (carbonates and evaporites), as well as insoluble volcanic rocks that contain sinkholes. The volcanic bedrock areas contain lava tubes that are voids left behind by the subsurface flow of lava, rather than from the dissolution of the bedrock. Hot spots of sinkhole activity are also shown in areas of greater susceptibility. Source: Progress toward a preliminary karst depression density map for the conterminous United States https://doi.org/10.5038/9781733375313.1003 (Public domain.) What to do if you think you have found a sinkhole? It is recommended that people constantly observe their property for signs of “subsidence,” (aka, “sinking”) such as tilted floors, misaligned door frames, or cracking and small holes in and around structural foundations. Water that flows on the surface and sinks into a depression or directly into a hole within the ground surface may indicate a sinkhole. In areas historically susceptible to sinkholes, surface streams can disappear entirely into active sinkholes and may be a concern for groundwater quality. Additionally, information on the locations of areas susceptible to sinkholes can be obtained from county offices, local or state geological surveys, or maps produced by the USGS. Excavated sinkhole at a golf course at Top of the Rock Ozarks Heritage Preserve in Missouri that occurred in May of 2015. Photo taken in February of 2018. (Credit: David Weary, USGS. ) I have (or think I have) a sinkhole on my property. What should I do? First, rule out human causes for a possible sinkhole. Some sinkholes are the result of leaky underground pipes (this would be an issue for your utility company), poor drainage control around building foundations, or old construction pits or buried materials that have settled. While the USGS studies the areas that can potentially form natural sinkholes, the agency does not investigate individual sinkholes on private property. Cover-collapse sinkhole in limestone near Frederick, Maryland (September 2003). Many sinkholes occur along highways where rainwater runoff is concentrated into storm drains and ditches increasing the rate of sinkhole development (note the sewer drain pipe beneath roadway). (Credit: Randall Orndorff, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.) If you are confident that a possible sinkhole is a result of natural causes, you can: check your homeowner's insurance policy to see if you might be covered (depending upon which state you live in, insurance policies may not cover damage due to natural sinkholes). contact the appropriate utility company if you are concerned about damage to gas, electric, water, or sewer lines. contact your state geological survey. They are the experts in your area’s geology, and they might be able to explain why a sinkhole is forming. Some states have extensive online information about sinkholes, and they often have a mechanism to report them. If you do confirm that there is a sinkhole in your area, ultimately a professional geologist or geotechnical engineer should be consulted either by you or state authorities to determine what is happening and how the impacts of a sinkhole might be mitigated. More Information on Landslides and Sinkholes Landslide-Generated Tsunami Risk in Prince William Sound webpage USGS Barry Arm Facebook post, August 28th, 2020 The Cost of Sinkholes USGS Water Science School – Sinkholes
The U.S. Geological Survey has launched a new Coastal Change Hazards website focused on coordinating research and delivering tools needed by coastal communities to respond to natural hazards along our Nation's coastlines. As Hurricane Sally approached the US Gulf Coast, the USGS Coastal Change Hazards team produced a series of forecasts for impacts on the beach. Forecasts were updated daily based on wave and storm surge forecasts from NOAA. (Public domain.) Our Nation’s coasts vary greatly, from relaxing sandy beaches and barrier islands, ecologically productive marshes, magnificent rocky coasts and cliffs, to tropical islands fringed by coral reefs and permafrost coasts where ice holds the sediments together. Each coastline is unique and faces different elements of coastal change. Equally importantly, with more than 40% of the United States population inhabiting coastal counties, we must use the best available information and tools to reduce societal risk, protect natural resources, develop and plan for smart infrastructure and provide science for a changing landscape. USGS’s Coastal Change Hazards (CCH) brings together expertise, technology and communities to help understand and reduce risks associated with coastal change. Doing so will ensure that USGS high-quality coastal science and tools are directly addressing the needs of coastal communities around the Nation, protecting the lives, property and economic prosperity. USGS scientists discuss coastal change with uniformed NPS resource managers on a barrier island beach. (Credit: Erika Lentz, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.) It is About Much More Than Hurricanes When hurricane season is in full swing, coastal change becomes a particularly important topic of conversation for emergency managers, first responders, coastal property owners and infrastructure- and resource managers and planners. However, extreme storms are not the only cause of coastal change. Coasts are dynamic places and changes to these environments are ongoing and inevitable – from waves impacts to cliffs, to centuries of sediment transport and runoff, to ever-present forces of wind and waves continually shaping coastal areas over millennia. USGS science helps identify the hazards and forecast changes in order to help reduce risk and inform planning and decision-making. “The USGS Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resources Program supports scientists who are working strategically to harness new technology and integrate science from different disciplines and partners so that we can provide information, tools and forecasts that help describe hazards and risks to human infrastructure and natural systems,” says the program’s coordinator John Haines. “By bringing these capabilities together, we can better help decision makers weigh options on how best to protect lives, property and the value our coasts provide.” “The USGS has been studying coastal processes and change for a very long time, but now we are taking a nationally consistent approach to connect that research with societal needs,” says Hilary Stockdon, Research Oceanographer and lead Science Advisor for CCH. “CCH is working to ensure that USGS tools and products – from historical trends in coastline change to forecasts of impacts from extreme storms and changes in coastal habitat – are available everywhere. By coordinating expertise and capabilities within the Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resource Program and across other USGS programs, we can both advance our fundamental understanding of coastal hazards and deliver useful science to the communities that need it.” USGS monitoring of shorelines before, during and after storms informs emergency managers on evacuation mandates and storm recovery planning, which can help to alleviate risk and loss from storms. One of the many successful tools created by CCH is the Total Water Level and Coastal Change Forecast viewer, developed and provided in close collaboration with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which provides hourly predictions of high water levels at the shoreline, giving users much-needed advance notice of the potential for local flooding and coastal erosion hazards on sandy coastlines around the U.S. Neal Pastick – lead author of the study – investigating erosion along Alaska’s Arctic coastline near the village of Kaktovik. Permafrost-dominated coasts of Alaska have drastically changed as the result of coastal transgression and storm-surge flooding which can result in the loss of cultural sites and damage to infrastructure. Photo by M. Torre Jorgenson (Public domain.) Coastal Change Hazards within a 21st Century Vision The USGS has a long history of advancing Earth science and identifying opportunities to integrate across disciplines to address complex societal problems. “Coastal change hazards science is a prime example of this legacy. The CCH works to bring together research, applications and communications to effectively deliver useful information and tools directly to those who need it to help minimize natural hazard risks along our Nation’s coastlines,” said David Applegate, Associate Director for the USGS Natural Hazards Mission Area. The USGS works with other federal agencies, such as NOAA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to advance our Nation’s hazard science and deliver information. “These collaborations are beneficial for advancing both research and public safety. For example, by integrating the USGS CCH coastal change models with NOAA’s wave and surge forecasts, we are able to provide emergency managers and coastal communities with more robust information to prepare for advancing storms.” The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers restores the coastline of St. Augustine Beach, Florida, for protection and recreational use. The sand for the project comes from the seabed offshore of northeast Florida. Fifty-nine percent of Florida's beaches are experiencing erosion. (Credit: Mark Bias. Public domain.) One key aspect of CCH is to work directly with stakeholders to ensure that science products are usable so communities can prepare for coastal hazards and reduce associated risks. Explore Coastal Hazards through Interactive Stories CCH has developed a series of educational, interactive webpages (geonarratives) that take you on a journey across our Nation’s coastlines to learn about coastal change in various environments, become familiar with the hazards posed by these changes and understand how USGS science and tools can help coastal communities mitigate these risks and prepare for future change. You can explore how barrier islands and shorelines move over time or how we forecast coastal change, learn how coral reefs make a difference in coastal protection, interact with our tools for visualizing coastal storm impacts on the California coast, or examine how permafrost and seasonal ice makes coastal change in Alaska unique. You can explore it all online in geonarrative format. Coastal change is inevitable, but coastal management decisions that are guided by USGS CCH science and tools can help our society reduce risk and losses. Through the focused efforts on coastal change hazards and growing connections to other areas of USGS expertise and capabilities, we are fulfilling the vision of a Nation that prospers by using scientific knowledge to prepare for, mitigate, and respond to threats posed by our dynamic coasts.
Taylor Kirkpatrick deploying a storm tide sensor October 6 in Santa Rosa County, Florida to monitor water levels likely to be affected by Hurricane Delta. Photo by Rob Clendening, USGS. (Public domain.) Hurricane Delta is forecast to cause life-threatening storm surge and extensive coastal change along the Gulf Coast, particularly in Louisiana, and U.S. Geological Survey scientists are quickly installing 30 storm tide sensors to measure the intense waves and storm surge Delta will generate. Scientists can use information gathered by the sensors to fine-tune future storm surge and coastal change forecasts. The sensor data can also be used to guide recovery efforts, plan evacuation routes, identify areas hardest hit by storm surge and improve structure designs to increase public safety. Field crews from the USGS Lower Mississippi Gulf Water Science Center and Wetland and Aquatic Research Center are installing 24 storm tide sensors from the Texas-Louisiana border along the coast to Gulf Shores, Alabama. Crews from the USGS Caribbean and Florida Water Science Center are installing 6 storm tide sensors from Pensacola Beach to Panama City, Florida. The work is expected to be completed late October 7. USGS storm tide sensors provide essential surge and wave data that local, state and federal officials can use to help protect lives and property. Storm tides are increases in ocean water levels caused by coastal storms and include storm- generated surge plus changes caused by local tides. Storm tides are among the most dangerous natural hazards unleashed by hurricanes. They can destroy homes and businesses; wipe out roads, bridges, water and sewer systems; and profoundly alter coastal landscapes. The storm tide sensors being installed collect data that will help define the depth and duration of Delta’s surge and the time of its arrival and departure. USGS scientists are also activating two seasonal rapid deployment gauges in Panama City and Destin, Florida to monitor potential flooding from Delta. These rapid deployment gauges will monitor locations that may be impacted by floodwaters. They provide real-time information to the National Weather Service, FEMA and other USGS partners involved in issuing flood and evacuation warnings and coordinating emergency responses. The storm tide sensors are housed in vented steel pipes a few inches wide and about a foot long. They are being installed on bridges, piers, and other structures that have a good chance of surviving the storm. Information on the storm tide sensor deployment and the incoming data will be available on the USGS Flood Event Viewer. As the USGS continues to take all appropriate preparedness actions in response to Hurricane Delta, those in the storm’s projected path can visit ready.gov or listo.gov for tips on creating emergency plans and putting together an emergency supply kit.