Humboldt State University Joins Oregon State and University of Washington to Launch Coastal Resilience Research Center – Redheaded Blackbelt


HSU graduate student Kristina Kunkel measures flood waters at King Salmon on the North Coast during a rising tide. Professors from HSU and other universities will collaborate on research on coastal resilience in the Cascadia region.

Humboldt State University to join a coastal resilience research hub led by Oregon State University and the University of Washington focused on the impact of earthquakes, coastal erosion and climate change on northern coastal communities -western Pacific.

With total funding of $ 18.9 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Cascadia Coastlines and Peoples Hazards Research Hub, or Cascadia CoPes Hub, will coordinate research in coastal communities in the Pacific Northwest between many academic and government organizations to inform and enable risk assessment, mitigation and adaptation. Jennifer Marlow and Laurie Richmond, professors in the Department of Environmental Science and Management, will lead HSU’s connection with Cascadia CoPes Hub.

Almost 40% of the US population lives in a coastal county. The Pacific Northwest is at significant risk from earthquakes from the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which stretches nearly 700 miles along the coast from Cape Mendocino in California to Oregon, in Washington and Vancouver Island, Canada.

In addition to this acute threat, the region also faces chronic risks such as coastal erosion, regional flooding and sea level rise due to climate change, said Pierre Ruggiero, principal investigator of the project and professor at the OSU College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences.

According to Ruggiero, the potential for collaboration between Pacific Northwest universities and coastal communities is a path to coastal resilience. “Resilience has many dimensions, including quality of life, economy, health, engineering, etc. “, did he declare. “This research hub is a way to bring together many groups interested in coastal resilience who did not have the resources to work together on these issues before. “

Locally, Humboldt Bay is experiencing the fastest rate of sea level rise on the west coast, with sea level expected to rise one meter by 2060. “These changes could lead to serious consequences. social, cultural, economic and environmental consequences. if we don’t plan to adapt, but these changes also offer opportunities for transformative change, ”says Richmond.

HSU will receive $ 450,000 from NSF to support student and faculty research on coastal resilience and risk in the California North Coast region. The participation will also allow the HSU team to collaborate with other researchers of the cluster on topics focused on the integration of local and traditional ecological knowledge in planning of the response to hazards and equitable governance and adaptation policy. . The grant includes support to local community partners, including the Wiyot Tribe and Humboldt County.

“This NSF grant transcends traditional academic and disciplinary boundaries and aligns with a more equitable vision for the 21st century that sees innovation, creativity and collaboration with communities and tribes as essential to scientific advancement.” , said Marlow. “The project also embodies HSU’s future as a polytech by addressing the most pressing issues facing our community in a critical manner informed by local culture and diverse values.”

Richmond and Marlow are delighted that the grant is an opportunity to develop and expand the work of the HSU Sea Level Rise Initiative (SLRI). The effort brings together HSU, local tribes, government agencies and community groups to develop sea level rise research and planning that informs equitable, sustainable and community-centered local climate action. Through the research center, HSU students and faculty connected to SLRI will have the opportunity to work with academics and community experts in the Cascadia region to learn from each other about coastal risks and coastal resilience.

“This issue requires a regional approach,” said Anne Bostrom, Co-Principal Investigator and Professor of Public Policy and Governance at UW. “This new research hub has the potential to make significant advancements in risk science – from understanding governance systems to a four-dimensional understanding of Cascadia faults and how they work, to new ways of engaging with communities. . There are many aspects integrated into this project that excite us all. “

Other project partners include the University of Oregon, based at OSU Oregon Sea Grant, Washington Sea Grant, the William D. Ruckleshaus Center at Washington State University, the United States Geological Survey, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Georgia Tech, and Arizona State University.

“Understanding not only who is vulnerable to coastal hazards, but also how future adaptation and mitigation measures may impact different segments of the population, especially under-represented populations, is critical to developing equitable measures. and fair ”, declared Jenna tilt, Assistant Professor at OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, who is part of the research cluster’s management team. “This research center provides the resources to do just that. “

Ruggiero says the project emphasizes integrating traditional ecological knowledge from Native American tribes in the area as well as local ecological knowledge from fishermen, farmers and others with personal coastal experience, offering insight unique on what coastal resilience means for their communities.

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