Project Pathways

Coastal Protection

People who live in coastal zones around the globe are confronted with an assortment of natural hazards that can induce damages. Climate change has the potential to alter the damage structure from natural hazards through sea-level rise and shifts in the composition of storm events. Historical advantages and current amenities associated with coastal living has led to massive investment in housing and infrastructure that creates significant potential for damage from natural hazards, and therefore, significant economic value from the ability to protect investments from damage. This pathway investigates public and landowner preferences for coastal protection policies, the economic values associated with those preferences, and the influential determinants of land-use change that drive coastal protection decisions.


- Photo by OSU



Pacific Northwest estuaries provide a number of services to society, including spawning and nursery habitat for salmon, bird habitat, coastal protection, carbon sequestration, and recreation. In this pathway, we seek to understand how estuarine ecosystem services respond to natural infrastructure investments (e.g. dike removal, eelgrass restoration, restoring oyster beds, restoring riparian buffers) and to quantify the economic values associated with outcomes of such investments. Evidence on how restoration efforts translate to services and how the public values those services will lead to actionable results supporting efforts to target restoration efforts to maximize benefits of a given investment.

- Photo by Brent Miller


Beach and Dune Landscapes

The beaches and dunes of the PNW provide unique habitats for native plants, shorebirds, amphibians, and mammals, buffering coastal development from ocean waves, sea level rise, and terrestrial flooding and provides a wide range of recreation opportunities. There are inherent tradeoffs in the many uses for these ecosystems. This pathways investigates theses tradeoffs by combining production functions and economic values for ecosystem services with underlying geomorphology across the landscape to suggest/map best management practices that maximize ecosystem services and values for beaches and dunes today and under climate change scenarios. 

- Photo by Laurie Houston

Coastal Land Use

Investment in natural infrastructure is a land-use decision at its core. Within coastal communities in the PNW, these decisions can influence the flow of both current and future benefits to the public. In this pathway, we ask the following research questions:

  • How can natural infrastructure be optimally allocated within coastal communities, accounting for both current amenity values (i.e. recreation) and the future value of life safety in a tsunami inundation event?
  • Given the current suite of risks, what land use policy decisions in the area of natural infrastructure can make coastal communities more resilient against those risks?
 - Photo by OSU