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Studies of nearshore environmental health by the USGS focus on the interface between health and the environment, where interactions among people, the environment, and other living organisms affect the risk of toxicological and infectious disease. Understanding nearshore ecosystem health is complex, in part, because it is affected by a wide variety of environmental and anthropogenic stressors. The nearshore environment serves a variety of functions such as habitat for plants and animals as well as a variety of human activities. The introduction of contaminants can deteriorate these aquatic resources through degradation of ambient water quality. Contaminants introduced in this manner may accumulate in the sediments...
Scientific information, when reliably obtained and wisely applied, can strengthen our efforts to build resilient coastal communities before storms strike, and guide our response and recovery strategies after landfall. Documenting the height, extent, and timing of overland storm tide and wave dynamics across natural and man-made landscapes, is critical for improved storm-surge modeling for floodplain mapping and real-time forecasting. This leads to better planning, more effective early warning of storm-driven flooding, and strengthening of coastal resilience. The USGS Surge, Wave, and Tide Hydrodynamics (SWaTH) Network developed for the Northeastern Atlantic coast provides critical information on nearshore storm...
Beach and barrier dynamics for the Atlantic Ocean and Great Lakes can vary extensively based on the sedimentary environments of these systems. Likewise, the settings can be complex and include components of mainland beachs, barrier islands and dunes, tidal flats and barrier platforms, salt marshes and lagoons, ponds, alluvial fans and inlet deltas, to name a few. The combination of wave, tidal, and storm impacts to coastal morphology also can differ by geographic location. However, barrier islands and spits may be the most vulnerable to changing sedimentary conditions due to human intervention, periodic extreme storms, and accelerating sea-level rise. The USGS is working to enhance mapping of these dynamic settings...
Coastal planners and resources managers require information about potential future climate and land-use changes for nearshore areas, in terms that are relevant for the human and natural environments that are likely to be affected by climate change. The collection and synthesis of climate and climate-derived data sets, as well as, land-use and impervious-area data would allow practitioners to analyze and visualize a coastal area's potential impacts caused by future climate and land-use changes. The USGS studies climate and land-changes to provide the tools to understand a changing world and how it impacts our natural resources, our livelihoods, and our communities. Planners and resource managers use a variety of...
The NYWSC carries out multidisciplinary science activities across the State’s diverse coastal waters and landscapes on the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes, including the many interconnected waterways, the barrier beaches that form and erode continually, the open waterways that are prone to the effects of major storms and hurricanes, and upland surface-water and groundwater source areas. These areas are also some of the most productive ecosystems in the State and host most of the population and economic development of the State. As a result, the interplay of environmental- and human-health concerns is a prominent thread that connects much of the coastal science activities of the USGS and involves cooperation not...
As a Science Topic for New York Water Science Center’s (NYWSC) Coastal Science Capability Team, Flood Hazards includes documenting and analyzing flood data for the Atlantic Ocean and Great Lakes and their many interconnected waterways. In cooperation with State and local organizations, the NYWSC is working to sustain and enhance vital flood-warning networks. The NYWSC leverages its institutional knowledge and that of its partners (like the National Weather Service) to provide regional and local emergency managers with timely information on flood hazards, including statistics such as annual exceedance probabilities (for example, on 100-year-recurrence-interval coastal-flood events). Results are disseminated through...
Wetlands provide numerous ecological and economic benefits to coastal communities having value as nursery, feeding, and refuge areas for many commercial and recreational fisheries, and they significantly contribute to the base of the food web. Wetlands trap sediments, reduce turbidity, and absorb nutrients and pollutants thereby improving water quality. They also provide an important buffer against wave energy from coastal storms; however, these benefits are deteriorating with the health of these ecosystems. Wetland health and sustainability are dependent on several factors including hydrology, sediment flux, vegetation, nutrient inputs, coastal development, and invasive species. Over the past several decades...
Ecological assessments are a central focus of multidisciplinary projects and programs managed by the NYWSC and managed in cooperation with the water and soil chemistry laboratory as well as other Federal, State, county, and city agencies, academia, and nongovernmental organizations in New York and nationwide. The NYWSC studies the condition of aquatic communities to assess the effects of various manmade and natural stressors and of resource management practices on the aquatic ecosystems and environments in the State and nationwide and in cooperation with a wide array of partners and monitors climate change indicators to identify trends and data gaps for indicators of climate and habitat change. Specific studies...