Hazards, Resilience and Climate Change

Coastal Flood Risk Reduction Course

Nicole Faghin, Coastal Management Specialist

Many major disaster declarations are due in whole or in part to flooding. But communities can adopt various corrective and preventive measures to reduce flood damage. The coastal flood risk reduction course incorporates floodplain management practices, and participants learn about the traditional structural and nonstructural mitigation approaches to reduce risk, increase opportunities for prevention and increase resilience.
The coastal flood risk reduction course is offered through the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center and taught in local communities throughout Washington state. It provides an overview of the flooding risks to coastal built and natural environments, in addition to introducing capabilities (approaches and tools) that can support coastal prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.

Coastal Hazards Assessments, Shoreline Assessments, and Climate Change Adaptation facilitation

Nicole Faghin, Coastal Management Specialist, Ian Miller, Coastal Hazards Specialist and Sue Blake, Water Resource Educator

In its partnerships with communities working to prepare for climate change, WSG has found that local-scale assessments result in local action and planning that improves resilience. State climate change projections suggest that Washington’s coastal communities will bear the physical and ecological brunt of rising ocean temperatures and sea level, more frequent storms, hydrologic changes to freshwater systems and other impacts.
WSG staff actively work with coastal communities to assess their vulnerabilities to climate change and develop adaptation plans that can reduce their risk over time. WSG offers courses on planning for climate change, facilitates or conducts vulnerability assessments for communities and constituents, and promotes and conducts applied research to identify climate impacts in coastal Washington.

Coastal Hazards Resilience Network

Kevin Decker, Coastal Economist

Preparing our communities for resilience along the coastline of Washington is a top priority of Washington Sea Grant. As the culminating product of the 3-year Washington Coastal Resilience Project (WCRP), WSG partnered with Washington Department of Ecology to create a new website for the Coastal Hazards Resilience Network (CHRN) that included a site-specific interactive “Risk Reduction Project Mapper.” The mapper offers users a way to learn about coastal hazards science, with the hopes that, through education and understanding, coastal disasters might be reduced.

Washington’s coastlines hold a plethora of economic, environmental, social, and cultural heritage benefits for our state and Tribal Nations. The state’s coastal areas are also heavily populated, thus making them vulnerable to natural hazards such as flooding, landslides and earthquakes. Climate change and rising sea levels will only compound the frequency and severity of these hazards, and far-sighted community planning and project design will be vital in facing these impacts effectively.

Another key product of the WCRP project was the sea level rise data visualizations created by WSG and the WCRP team, which produced updated probabilistic sea level rise projections for the entire coastline of Washington State. University of Washington Climate Impacts Group created a tool to visualize the projections, together the WCRP provided planners and jurisdictions with critical new tools for coastal resilience planning.

King Tides

Bridget Trosin, Coastal Policy Specialist

Ecosystems, infrastructure and people will be impacted by the phenomenon of climate change and rising sea levels. The King Tides Program and community events inform coastal dwellers about twice-yearly extreme tides. Citizens’ photos of king tides are posted on the website.The website helps local communities and decision makers visualize the challenges we will face as the climate changes.

More information:

Sea Level Rise Adaptation Course

Nicole Faghin, Coastal Management Specialist


With climate change comes impacts to our coastlines from storm surges and rising sea levels. Planning for climate change is an important priority for Washington’s coastal communities. For professionals planning ahead to address sea level rise, WSG specialists offer a course through the Coastal Training Program.


Course materials include adaptation tools and methods, flood impact and risk-reduction planning, climate-change and sea-level-rise communication strategies and inundation mapping strategies. Courses are taught in conjunction with NOAA’s Office of Coastal Management.

Contact Nicole Faghin at faghin@uw.edu.

Sociocultural Dimensions of Climate Change

Melissa Poe, Social Scientist

Pacific Northwest communities face many climate risks to their health and wellbeing. This project assesses vulnerability of coastal and fishing communities experiencing ocean changes such as acidification and shifting species distributions. Outcomes help communities and decision makers prepare for critical challenges, including strategies to strengthen resilience, minimize vulnerability, and protect and restore marine ecosystems.

Key initiatives include surveys, focus groups and participatory risk assessments with several Washington communities whose wellbeing is tied to marine resources. Information about social and cultural variables such as food security, cultural practices, livelihoods and a community’s sense of place help to identify anticipated and cumulative threats.

Tsunami Outreach and Research


Carrie Garrison-Laney, Coastal Hazards Specialist

Ian Miller, Coastal Hazards Specialist

WSG has teamed with state and federal agencies working at the forefront of tsunami research and outreach to help prepare Washington coastal communities for the next tsunami. Washington is vulnerable to tsunamis from both local and distant earthquakes, and there is geologic evidence for past tsunamis in many Washington locations. Because of this, tsunami hazard awareness and planning is a number one priority for community resiliency. WSG’s coastal hazard experts Ian Miller and Carrie Garrison-Laney collaborate with state and county emergency managers and maritime groups around the state and give public presentations focused on education and preparation.

Through research and outreach, such as mapping tsunami deposits and promoting a Western Washington “Tsunami Trail,” WSG builds public awareness and scientific understanding of this paramount coastal hazard. WSG staff link the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory’s tsunami modelers and research to end-users in the community. Users include the U.S. Coast Guard and the Washington Military Department’s Emergency Management Division. WSG supports their efforts to plan effectively for natural hazards. Carrie’s work is partially supported by Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory Liaison funds.