Filter by Type

Rigorously Valuing the Role of US Coral Reefs in Coastal Hazard Risk Reduction

Event Type: 
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Contact Name: 
Contact Email: 

12 ET

Rigorously Valuing the Role of US Coral Reefs in Coastal Hazard Risk Reduction    


Curt Storlazzi, PhD. Research Geologist. US Geological Survey, Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resources Program. Presenting remotely.


NOAA's National Ocean Service Science Seminar; coordinator is

Remote Access:

We will use Adobe Connect; please register for seminar here:
Users should use either IE or Edge on Windows or Safari if using a Mac. Audio will be available thru the computer only; no phone. Questions will be addressed in the chat window. This Webcast will be recorded, archived and made accessible in the near future. 
You can test your ability to use Adobe Connect at this link. Audio is over the computer, so adjust volume on your computer speakers or headsets.  Questions? Email

The degradation of coastal habitats, particularly coral reefs, raises risks by increasing the exposure of coastal communities to flooding hazards. The protective services of these natural defenses are not assessed in the same rigorous economic terms as artificial defenses, such as seawalls, and therefore often are not considered in decision making. Here we combine engineering, ecologic, geospatial, social, and economic tools to provide a rigorous valuation of the coastal protection benefits of all populated U.S. coral reefs in the States of Hawaii and Florida, the Territories of Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. We follow risk-based valuation approaches to map flood zones at 10-square-meter resolution along all 3,100+ kilometers of U.S. reef-lined shorelines for different storm probabilities that account for the effect of coral reefs in reducing coastal flooding. We quantify the coastal flood risk reduction benefits provided by coral reefs using the latest information from the U.S. Census Bureau, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Bureau of Economic Analysis for return-interval storm events and in terms of their annual expected benefits, a measure of the annual protection provided by coral reefs. Based on these results, the annual value of flood risk reduction provided by U.S. coral reefs is more than 18,000 lives and $1.805 billion in 2010 U.S. dollars. These data provide stakeholders and decision makers with spatially explicit, rigorous valuation of how, where, and when U.S. coral reefs provide critical coastal storm flood reduction benefits. The overall goal is to ultimately reduce the risk to, and increase the resiliency of U.S. coastal communities.


Curt Storlazzi is the Chief Scientist of the USGS Coral Reef Project and leads a research team of 13 scientists that examines the geologic and oceanographic processes that affect the sustainability of US coral reefs and reef-lined coasts, authoring more than 140 scientific papers, reports, and book chapters on these topics. He received his BSc from the University of Delaware in 1996, his PhD from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 2000, and has been a research geologist in the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Coastal and Marine Geology Program since 2003. His research focuses on the quantitative study of hydrodynamics, sediment transport, and geomorphology in coastal and marine environments across the Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic, and Indian Oceans. Curt is on the steering committee for the US Coral Reef Task Force and regularly contributes scientific review for the US Global Change Research Program, NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program, the National Park Service, the USFWS Landscape Change Cooperatives, and the USGS Climate Science Centers.
Subscribe to the OneNOAA Science Seminar weekly email: Send an email to with the word 'subscribe' in the subject or body. Visit the OneNOAA Science Seminar Series website for more information.

Translate this Page