[Coral-List] New report values U.S. Coral Reefs for Coastal Hazard Risk Reduction

Borja Gonzalez borjagreguero at gmail.com
Wed May 1 19:36:58 UTC 2019

Dear colleagues,

A new, in-depth study titled “Rigorously Valuing the Role of U.S. Coral
Reefs in Coastal Hazard Risk Reduction” was released on April 30, demonstrating
annual benefits of coral reefs including a flood-protection barrier for
more than 18,000 coastal citizens and $1.8 billion worth of coastal
infrastructure in the United States and its trust territories. The study
will help managers take effective actions to reduce the risk to, and
increase the resiliency of, U.S. mainland and U.S. insular area coastal
communities to flooding and other hazards.

The research analyzed flood risk and assessed reef benefits of populated
U.S. reef-lined coasts of Hawaii, Florida, American Samoa, Guam, the
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S.
Virgin Islands. It is the first time that scientists have combined
real-world computer models of storms and waves with engineering,
ecological, mapping and social and economic tools to create detailed,
rigorous estimates of the value of coral reef defenses along U.S. mainland
and U.S. insular area coastlines both in the long-term (annualized) and for
more infrequent events such as 50- or 100-year storms. The study models can
forecast localized threats to people and economic damage in areas with and
without coral reefs at a 10-square meter (108 square feet) resolution along
more than 3,100 kilometers (1,920 miles) of populated U.S. coral reef-lined

Coral reefs are coastal barriers that can substantially reduce coastal
flooding and erosion by reducing the energy of waves as they wash
ashore. The value of coastal flood risk reduction provided by coral reefs
varies from location to location, primarily because of population density
and the elevation of coastal areas. For example, coral reefs shield more
than 3,300 people on Maui each year but just over 100 on Guam, where most
housing and infrastructure is located at higher elevations because of the
nearly constant threat of typhoons. Coral reefs annually protect $183
million worth of buildings and economic activity in Puerto Rico, $675
million in Florida and $836 million in Hawaii.

These data indicate that in the event of a 50-year storm (which has a 2
percent chance of occurring in any given year), the economic and protective
benefits of coral reefs are even greater. In such a storm, for example,
coral reefs off the heavily urbanized coast of Miami-Ft. Lauderdale,
Florida, would provide more than $1.6 billion in protection, and off the
coast of Honolulu, Hawaii, they would provide more than $435 million in
protection. The study also calculates the extent to which critical
infrastructure, such as hospitals, fire stations, roads and power plants,
are protected from coastal flooding by coral reefs.

*Background: *

The new report titled “Rigorously Valuing the Role of U.S. Coral Reefs in
Coastal Hazard Risk Reduction,” was conducted by scientists with the
USGS, the University of California at Santa Cruz, The Nature
Conservancy, and Deltares. It was funded by USGS and DOI Office of Insular

*Link to Report:*

Storlazzi, C.D., Reguero, B.G., Cole, A.D., Lowe, E., Shope, J.B., Gibbs,
A.E., Nickel, B.A., McCall, R.T., van Dongeren, A.R., and Beck, M.W. (2019)
Rigorously valuing the role of U.S. coral reefs in coastal hazard risk
reduction. *U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2019–1027*, 42 p.,

Borja G. Reguero, PhD
Climate Risk and Adaptation, UCSC.
borjagreguero at gmail.com | breguero at ucsc.edu
SP: +34-600-799275  US: + 1-831-495-1460

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