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News Release 16-110

NSF awards $13 million in third set of coastal sustainability grants

In the face of sea-level rise and other threats, awards will lead to better management of coastal environments

A new NSF Coastal SEES award addresses sustainability of the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta.

A new NSF Coastal SEES award addresses sustainability of the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta.

September 21, 2016

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

At a time when sea-level rise is flooding cities in the U.S. Southeast, harmful algae blooms are threatening seashore communities, and climate change is affecting fisheries just offshore, how do we coexist with our coastlines?

To answer that question, the National Science Foundation (NSF), through its Coastal SEES (Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability) program, has funded a third set of awards totaling $13 million to study coasts in the U.S. and around the world.

The program is largely supported by the Division of Ocean Sciences in NSF's Directorate for Geosciences. It funds research on the sustainability of coastal systems, the swaths of land closely connected to the seas -- including barrier islands, wetlands, mudflats, beaches and estuaries, as well as coastal cities, towns, recreational areas, maritime facilities -- as well as the continental seas and shelves and the atmosphere.

"Coastal systems are crucial to regional and national economies, and to human safety and sustainability," says Rick Murray, director of NSF's Division of Ocean Sciences. "This third set of Coastal SEES awards will help us preserve our coasts at a time when they're under pressure from all sides, including sea-level rise, changes in storm intensity and frequency, ocean acidification, and development of coastal lands."

We've left a large footprint in coastal sands. In the year 2000, more than half the world's human population lived in coastal areas. By 2025, that number is expected to rise to 75 percent. By 2020, if current population trends continue, the crowded U.S. coast is projected to see its population grow from 123 million people to nearly 134 million.

NSF's new Coastal SEES projects address topics such as: apex predators, ecosystems and community sustainability in Alaska; climate change, management decisions and ecological functions in Chesapeake Bay; climate change effects on fisheries in the California Current ecosystem; new modeling tools to predict ocean acidification effects on coastal ecosystems; and landscape dynamics, mass balance and network connectivity for a sustainable Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta.

2016 NSF Coastal SEES Awards

Mya Breitbart, University of South Florida; Maryann Cairns, Northeastern University: Coastal SEES Collaborative Research: Integration of human behavior and perception into a risk-based microbial water quality management approach

John Campbell, University of California, Merced; Joseph Berry, Carnegie Institutution for Science; Roger Samelson, Oregon State University; Nicole Ardoin, Stanford University; Ulrike Seibt, University of California Los Angeles: Coastal SEES: Coastal fog-mediated interactions between climate change, upwelling, and coast redwood resilience: Projecting vulnerabilities and the human response

Ginny Eckert, University of Alaska Fairbanks; Heidi Pearson, University of Alaska SE Juneau; Stephen Langdon, University of Alaska Anchorage: Coastal SEES Collaborative Research: Apex predators, ecosystems and community sustainability (APECS) in coastal Alaska

Jerome Fiechter, University of California, Santa Cruz: Coastal SEES: developing new modeling tools to predict ocean acidification impacts on coastal ecosystems

Steven Goodbred, Vanderbilt University; Irina Overeem, University of Colorado Boulder; Carol Wilson, Louisiana State University; Paola Passalacqua, University of Texas Austin: Coastal SEES Collaborative Research: Multi-scale modeling and observations of landscape dynamics, mass balance, and network connectivity for a sustainable Ganges-Brahmaputra delta

Carl Hershner, College of William & Mary, Virginia Institute of Marine Science; Randolph Chambers College of William & Mary; Shana Jones, University of Georgia; Michelle Covi, Old Dominion University: Coastal SEES Collaborative Research: Sustainability in Chesapeake Bay shorescapes: climate change, management decisions, and ecological functions

Arthur Miller, University of California, San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Arielle Levine, San Diego State University; Junjie Zhang, University of California San Diego: Coastal SEES Collaborative Research: Climate change impacts on the sustainability of key fisheries of the California Current System

Allison Steiner, University of Michigan; Frank Lupi, Michigan State University; Daniel Obenour, North Carolina State University; Christine Kirchhoff, University of Connecticut: Coastal SEES: Enhancing sustainability in coastal communities threatened by harmful algal blooms by advancing and integrating environmental and socio-economic modeling


Media Contacts
Cheryl Dybas, NSF, (703) 292-7734, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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