Coastal Risk Reduction and Resilience

The Coastal Risk Reduction and Resilience Initiative of the Institute for Sustainable Communities seeks to provide solutions to today’s most pressing coastal issues through holistic research that explores the interconnections of the natural, built, and socio-political environments and engages communities to enhance local resilience.

This initiative builds upon the work of the Texas Center for Beaches and Shores, driven by an interdisciplinary team of faculty, professional staff, and students with backgrounds in urban planning, geography, economics, ocean engineering, coastal ecology, marine biology, marine sciences, environmental science, coastal planning, and political science. The shared focus of this team is coastal hazard reduction and resilience with specific emphasis on coastal flooding. Coastal flooding driven by heavy precipitation, storm surge, and sea level rise is the most costly, disruptive, and life-threatening hazard worldwide. Therefore, it is imperative to research solutions to reduce flood risk and mitigate the negative impacts of storm events. The team dedicated to this initiative are tackling the issue of flooding by studying the association of hazard events, risk reduction, and public policy with the interaction of urban development, anthropogenic impacts, local economies, and community knowledge and culture. The findings of this research promote innovative approaches, both structural and non-structural, to mitigate coastal flooding. This work has been supported by numerous funding agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and the Texas Sea Grant.

Dr. Ashley Ross, the lead faculty member for the Coastal Risk and Reduction Initiative, is a social scientist with a background in political science and public policy and administration. Her work focuses on Gulf Coast disaster resilience from a local administrative and community-based perspective.


Discovery Initiative Highlights

Coastal Texas Atlas

Coastal Texas Atlas

The Coastal Atlas is a detailed geographic, web-based program providing information for anyone wanting to know more about the Texas coast and the risks of hazards, such as floods and hurricanes. As of 2016, the Atlas is the most comprehensive online, interactive database ever compiled about the Texas coast. This system offers anyone with an Internet connection critical information on the consequences of living on the coast, from regional issues down to an individual structure. This Atlas interlinks the flood risk reduction and environmental monitoring programs and gives them a visual reality.

Visit the Coastal Bay Atlas

Visit the Coastal Texas Atlas


National Science Foundation Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE)

Coastal Flood Risk Reduction Program: Integrated, multi-scale approaches for understanding how to reduce vulnerability to damaging events


This project is an international collaboration to establish a research and education program on coastal Flood Risk Reduction between the U.S. and the Netherlands. Multiple institutions are involved, including: Texas A&M University at Galveston, Texas A&M University at College Station, University of Houston, Rice University, Jackson State University, and Delft University. This collaboration seeks create new knowledge that will transform the way floods are dealt with in the U.S and around the world. Multiple case studies in both countries integrating faculty from engineering, architecture, economics, and planning will address several research questions, including: 1) what are the underlying characteristics of physical flood risks; 2) why are human communities and the built environment so vulnerable to flood impacts, and how will this increase in the future; and 3) which mitigation techniques, both structural and non-structural, are most effective in reducing the adverse impacts of floods? Within each study region in the U.S. and the Netherlands, six sub-case study focal points will be initiated covering both surge-based and precipitation-driven flood problems. Each case will provide a target area for interdisciplinary assessments of physical flood risk and modeling, socioeconomic characteristics, land use change and built environment, and mitigation techniques. The effectiveness of both structural and non-structural strategies will be investigated, leading to a better understanding of when to pursue avoidance and resistance strategies for mitigating adverse impacts from flood events. An integral part of the project will be an educational component, where interdisciplinary, binational teams of students conduct place-based assessments within the six case studies. Graduate and undergraduate students will be recruited from all participating campuses, placed in interdisciplinary teams, guided by project faculty, and travel to one of the six research sites to conduct case study analysis.

Visit the Center for Texas Beaches and Shores to learn more.