[Coral-List] new paper in Nature Communications: Coral reefs reduce coastal hazards

Storlazzi, Curt cstorlazzi at usgs.gov
Fri May 16 12:52:41 EDT 2014

Dear colleagues,

We are happy to announce the publication of a paper relevant to Coral_List
readers in *Nature Communications* this week by a coalition of ecologists,
geographers, and oceanographers from academia, government, and an
international conservation organization. This research demonstrates how
maintaining or restoring coral reefs ecosystems can not only reduce coastal
hazards, but how such efforts are more cost-effective than hard
anthropogenic engineering structures. This research links coastal hazards
and ecosystem health while providing insight into the cost-benefit analyses
that often drive many management decisions.

The effectiveness of coral reefs for coastal hazard risk reduction and

The world’s coastal zones are experiencing rapid development and an
increase in storms and flooding. These hazards put coastal communities at
heightened risk, which may increase with habitat loss. Here we analyse
globally the role and cost effectiveness of coral reefs in risk reduction.
Meta-analyses reveal that coral reefs provide substantial protection
against natural hazards by reducing wave energy by an average of 97%. Reef
crests alone dissipate most of this energy (86%). There are 100 million or
more people who may receive risk reduction benefits from reefs or bear
hazard mitigation and adaptation costs if reefs are degraded. We show that
coral reefs can provide comparable wave attenuation benefits to artificial
defenses such as breakwaters, and reef defences can be enhanced cost
effectively. Reefs face growing threats yet there is opportunity to guide
adaptation and hazard mitigation investments towards reef restoration to
strengthen this first line of coastal defense.

Ferrario, F., Beck, M.W., Storlazzi, C.D., Micheli, F., Shepard, C.C., and
Airoldi, L., 2014. ”The effectiveness of coral reefs for coastal hazard
risk reduction and adaptation.” *Nature Communications*, 5:3794, DOI:

The article should soon be available online for free via OpenAcess at:


Until then, please feel free to contact Mike Beck (mbeck at tnc.org) if you
would like a copy of the article.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Curt Storlazzi, Ph.D.
U.S. Geological Survey
Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
400 Natural Bridges Drive
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 460-7521 phone
(831) 427-4748 fax

Staff web page:

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