Sustainable Coastal Communities for a Resilient Future

Date: 5/3/2018

Author: Cassie Oswood

Dr.  Ashley Ross, Discover Lead for Coastal Risk Reduction and Resilience and fellow of The Center for Texas Beaches and Shores, comes to Texas A&M College Station to discuss advancements in research applications for the public.

Following the impacts of Hurricane Harvey, a great deal of attention has been directed towards the Texas coast. The public and media wonder what steps Texas is taking towards a more sustainable and resilient future. One organization that has been working hard to foster new ideas and pursue research opportunities on the sustainable front is the Center for Texas Beaches and Shores at Texas A&M Galveston, an academic partner to the IfSC. Dr. Ashley Ross came to Texas A&M in College Station to present her progress and new ideas for sustainability and hazard resilience in the Galveston area. Dr. Ross is the Institute for Sustainable Communities’ Discovery Lead for Coastal Risk Reduction and Resilience and works in tandem with CTBS.

CTBS works 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. Their current research has been focused on coastal hazards and flooding. The interdisciplinary research at the CTBS brings together professionals from a variety of backgrounds and departments to produce sustainable solutions to the pressing questions of resilience and risk reductions along the coastline. They has started several programs that focus on research following the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The National Science Foundation Partnerships for International Research and Education (NSF PIRE) engage students in place-based research in Galveston and the Netherlands to improve understanding of flood risk and risk reduction with guidance from their Dutch partners.

The CTBS also has a Master’s program in Marine Resource Management to help equip students to solve some of the complex coastal problems that the country is facing. The program focuses on marine and coastal resource management and policy development from both an ecological and policy perspective.

The research from the CTBS has been used to produce several online resources for the public to use. The Coastal Atlas is used to analyze environmental factors and hazards of an area in either the Coastal Bay, the Texas Coast, or the Galveston Bay Estuary. These environmental factors can include flooding vulnerability and hazards, coastal development, future land changes and many others. Another user-friendly application of the research is the Buyers BeWhere system that can show potential house buyers the environmental risks that threaten houses on the market in the Galveston and Harris Counties. 
In addition to these research opportunities and applications, Dr. Ross also discussed new ideas the CTBS is looking into for future research opportunities. A topic of interest for the CTBS is the development of the coastal spine and its economic and environmental impacts. The CTBS is also looking into potentially starting a living lab in a mixed-income housing complex.

These research projects and applications, as well as innovative ideas for the future, are valuable resources for a sustainable future in coastal communities. The Institute for Sustainable Communities commends the Center for Texas Beaches and Shores for their advancements towards sustainable communities and a resilient future.