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Powerful winds aren't the only deadly force during a hurricane. The greatest threat to life actually comes from the water — in the form of storm surge. See for yourself with this video from NOAA's Ocean Today.

Storm tide is the total observed seawater level during a storm, resulting from the combination of storm surge and the astronomical tide. 

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 Dr. Stephen Summers shares insights of his research on seawalls and how new techniques can maintain their structural integrity while reducing their negative environmental impacts.


Two things are very interesting to them from an engineering standpoint. Firstly, if you clad a seawall in concrete tiles, the cladding actually protects the seawall. There’ll be less erosion on the seawall, so it’ll last longer. You may have to go through every few years and replace the cladding, but that’s far easier than replacing the seawall. Secondly, in the case of storm surge, as a wave comes up the seawall it can cause significant flooding. If you’ve got a series of bumpy tiles that have got clams and barnacles growing on them, it breaks up the wave. It dissipates the power in the storm surge, meaning that the seawall is more effective. In other words, we can somewhat improve the functionality of the seawall using this cladding.

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Along the coast of Southwest Florida, red tide is lingering. Through January 6, 2023, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission detected low to high concentrations in 59 samples collected from Pinellas to Charlotte County, as detailed in the image above. 

“During Sandy we saw evidence of how parks can be built to weather the worst impacts of storms. Areas that suffered less damage overall had infrastructure in place that served to alleviate some of the harsher impacts: facilities such as beaches, wetlands and parks which, if built right, can serve as a cushion for harsh weather conditions that might hit coastal and neighboring communities.”

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The Coastal Resilience decision support system includes a visualization platform where ecological, social, and economic information can be viewed alongside sea level rise and storm surge scenarios in specific geographies. In addition, a modular, configurable plugin architecture allows specific geographies to have apps designed specifically for geo-processing and display. These cater to the needs of stakeholders, policies and planning processes. Apps are used to simplify complex relationships or models, convey a specific ecological or social concept, or used to compare different future condition scenarios.

The Coastal Resilience approach includes four critical elements:

  • Assess Risk and Vulnerability to coastal hazards through community input and tools that include alternative scenarios for current and future storms and sea level rise.

  • Identify Solutions for reducing vulnerability that focus on collaborative efforts across social, economic, and ecological systems.

  • Take Action help communities develop and implement solutions.

  • Measure Effectiveness of efforts to reduce disaster risks and apply ecosystem-based adaptation.

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