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An Integrating Architecture for Coastal Inundation and Erosion Program Planning and Product Development

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The need for data and information that can be used to enhance community resilience to coastal inundation and erosion has been highlighted by the devastating impacts of recent events such as Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The physical systems causing coastal inundation and erosion are governed by a complex combination of oceanic, atmospheric, and terrestrial processes interacting across a broad range of temporal and spatial scales. Depending on time and place the expression of these processes may variously take the form of episodic storm-induced surge or wave overtopping and undercutting, chronic flooding and erosion associated with long-term relative sea level rise, or catastrophic inundation attributable to tsunami. Differences related to geographic setting, such as sea ice in Alaska or coral reefs in Hawai'i and the Pacific Islands, enhance this phenomenological variability. Anticipating the expression of these phenomena is also complicated by observed and projected changes in climate. Combined with these physical systems are social systems made up of diverse cultural, economic, and environmental conditions. Like the physical systems, the social systems are changing, largely because of increases in population and infrastructure along coastlines. These diverse conditions and systems reveal wide-ranging needs for the content, format, and timing of data and information to support decision-making. In addition, other considerations complicate these requirements for data and information: (1) the decentralized acquisition of information from a variety of platforms (e.g., tide gauges, wave buoys, satellites, radars); (2) data and models of varying complexity and spatial and temporal application; and (3) gaps and overlaps in agency, institutional, and organizational activity and authority. This systemic complexity presents a challenge to scientists, planners, managers, and others working to increase community resilience in the face of the risks associated with inundation and erosion.

This paper describes a conceptual framework for an integrating architecture that would support program planning and product development toward hazard resilient communities. Central to this framework is a comprehensive, horizontally and vertically integrated view of the physical and social systems that shape the risks associated with coastal inundation and erosion, and the kinds of information needed to manage those risks. Equally important, the framework addresses the necessary connections among systems and scales. This integrated approach also emphasizes the needs of planners, managers, and decision-makers in a changing physical and social environment, as well as the necessity of an iterative, nested, collaborative, and participatory process.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2007

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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