Science, Reports and Publications

publicationsThe Coastal Resilience Network has developed peer-reviewed papers, reports, articles and more. All links are provided with some available via download at the Coastal Resilience Resource Library on the Conservation Gateway. Click here to be redirected to the Resource Library or check out these featured resources below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is Coastal Resilience?

Coastal Resilience is an approach which includes a four step process to assess and reduce the ecological and socio-economic risks of coastal hazards. Through this approach we have developed planning methods, a decision support tool, and web apps that address specific coastal issues.

Learn more about our approach

How does the Coastal Resilience decision support tool fit in with the approach?

The Coastal Resilience approach addresses four critical areas of climate adaptation planning: (1) Assess Risk and Vulnerability to coastal hazards including current and future storms and sea level rise scenarios, (2) Identify Solutions for reducing risk across social-ecological systems, (3) Take Action to help communities develop and implement nature-based solutions where appropriate and (4) Measure Effectiveness to ensure that our efforts to reduce risk through restoration and adaptation are successful. The decision support tool is an important component of Coastal Resilience that supports each step of this approach. The tool platform and web apps are customized for different geographies and planning processes while also being replicated and modified across a network of Coastal Resilience projects.

Explore the Coastal Resilience tool 

Where are there Coastal Resilience projects?

The Coastal Resilience projects and the tool works U.S. nationwide and globally to assess risk and identify risk reduction solutions, operating at national, regional and local scales for more detailed planning in numerous communities. Coastal Resilience has been rapidly expanding and now includes 17 U.S. coastal states (Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington), the Caribbean (Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, U.S Virgin Islands), and across Mexico and Central America (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras). Having reached almost 100 communities since 2008, TNC intends to increase coverage of the tool and custom web apps to more U.S. states, throughout Mexico and into Southeast Asia in the next two years.

View the mapping portal that links to a network of Coastal Resilience projects

Is Coastal Resilience just about climate change and sea level rise?

No. Coastal Resilience is fundamentally about mitigating the vulnerability for human communities and natural resources simultaneously. Local vulnerability can come from many sources, including flooding from storms, king tides, oil spills and other coastal hazards. Climate change and sea level rise are important because they will change the landscape impacted by these sources of vulnerability and exacerbate future risk.

Currently Coastal Resilience focuses on (a) the resources at risk from coastal hazards including flooding and inundation and (b) the options for protecting coastlines and people from these hazards, focusing particularly on natural solutions. Coastal Resilience identifies that these natural solutions may offer additional co-benefits.

Learn more about nature-based solutions to flooding

Is community engagement an essential component of Coastal Resilience?

Yes – it is a core principle of Coastal Resilience to engage communities on the risks of coastal hazards and discuss options for adaptation. Moreover, the resources developed for communities including the reports, papers, data, website, and mapping application have helped us to effectively engage regional, national and international leaders. This engagement has established TNC and partners as leaders in the integration of socio-economic and ecological data to reduce vulnerability to coastal hazards.

Learn more about our community-based projects

Is Coastal Resilience only site or community-based?

The focus of Coastal Resilience is on communities because the range of vulnerabilities, values and potential responses varies significantly from place to place. However, to assist practitioners in accessing critical data and visualization tools, we are building national and global Coastal Resilience databases and mapping applications. This effort leverages our resources and removes many technological hurdles that individual site-based projects have faced in accessing data and developing a mapping application.

Is there a Coastal Resilience “community of practice” and how can that help with starting a project?

There is a growing community of practice around the family of Coastal Resilience project sites. Relying on this community of practice, new geographies can learn from past efforts and initiate new projects. We encourage people to examine the Coastal Resilience network of projects in this website to learn more about starting a project. The network is working to formalize this community of practice so that it is clearer where projects are developing and who is involved.

Can Coastal Resilience really reduce the risks of disaster?

Coastal Resilience promotes advance planning to mitigate disaster vulnerability, and encourages the use of nature-based approaches where appropriate. While no amount of either natural or built infrastructure will provide protection from the biggest coastal hazards there is substantial evidence that coastal natural habitats can effectively protect coastlines and reduce human vulnerability to more typical annual and decadal coastal hazard events. Moreover, forward-thinking development plans that seek to reduce the number of people and structures (or at least do not continue to increase that risk) have huge social, economic and ecological benefits.

Can Coastal Resilience be used in data poor areas?

Yes. It can be used wherever any spatial data are being used or developed to assess and reduce risks from coastal hazards and climate change.

How do I troubleshoot the decision support tool?

The Coastal Resilience decision support tool relies on web technology to function. Therefore internet connectivity, browser versions, and the computer being used to access the tool all contribute to its performance. Below are a few important notes and some recommended steps to take to ensure you have as good as experience as possible with running the tool.

1. It is always a good idea to reboot your machine if you haven’t recently. This ensures that you have enough memory to run the tool as your local web browser does some of the lifting to make the tool go.

2. If you have the tool open for an extended period of time close the tab and start a new session – being idle for too long can cause it to stall out or freeze.

3. Depending on what you want to show, be ready to show the tool on different browsers. It is always a maze to figure out why a browser isn’t responding well to a website, so having different options is key.

4. While presenting if the tool locks up clear local cache in your browser by pressing CTRL + F5 – you may want to press this several times to fully clear the system. You can also close the tab and open it again to fully flush the site. On an Apple machine the command is Command + R.

5. You can also open a new incognito window (in Chrome this is in the upper right next to the star bookmark this page, “customize and control Google Chrome”). This opens a new browser window that doesn’t rely on any web history. In IE you can open a window from the settings button upper right. This would be Safety > InPrivate Browsing. Seems this works the same way as Chrome incognito.

6. Test the tool to make sure it works before presenting it to key audiences. If something is obviously wrong notify a Coastal Resilience network manager (for now that is Zach Ferdaña at and he will get the right folks on the job.

7. If a base map doesn’t load in single or split view (you get a gray screen) try choosing another map other than the default (topographic on the upper right hand side).

8. If a data layers says “unavailable” it means the data in that web mapping service has timed out. Refreshing your browser sometimes helps, but if it persists it is either broken on the Coastal Resilience server or from an external source (e.g. an agency server that we do not have control over).

9. The tools are optimized for the latest browsers. Especially if you are using an old version of IE now is the time to update it! Versions 9 and
10 support the current version of Coastal Resilience; version 8 and older is not supported. BE AWARE THAT A NUMBER OF U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES MAY BE OPERATING WITH OLD BROWSERS, so when possible show the tool from your computer if this is the case.

10. Although the tools work fairly well on tablets they are not optimized for them. Our designers did consider tablet formats, but the tools have really been optimized for laptops/desktops. So please be aware when you are sharing the site with people – works fine on tablets but better on laptops/desktops.

Is there a cheat sheet for using the Coastal Resilience tool?

Yes. There are a few key functions to keep in mind with using and showing the tool. Below are some important features of the tool to keep in mind;

1. The tool contains a visualization platform and Coastal Resilience “apps.” The platform includes the top blue bar, the base maps, the white button functions on the left side overlaying the base maps, and the lower left buttons (switch to map 2 button and below). The apps are all the icons along the vertical black bar on the left – you may need to scroll through them to see all of them.

2. The Get Started button contains videos and tutorials that demonstrate basic uses and navigation of the tool. This is a great place to start for new users.

3. For a quick run down on the functions of the tool click on Tour – this will point to the different elements of the tool and give a short explanation of them.

4. When you open an app the icon changes color and appears like an app on your phone. When done using the app you can either use the close (‘x’) button in the upper right hand corner to remove it from being active, and will remove data from the map, or the minimize (‘_’) button to have it remain active and therefore keep data on the map. You can have multiple apps open – minimizing the apps helps maximize how much of the map is shown.

5. Likewise the Map Legend can be minimized (‘_’) – to get the legend back you will find a white button on the left side of the map. Hover your cursor over these button and they will tell you what they do.

6. Most of the windows that appear on the map (i.e. app windows, map legend) can be dragged around by clicking down on your mouse when the cursor is hovering over the top black bar.

7. Clicking on data that appears on the map will open an Identify window showing the attributes of the data layer. If the Identify box is too big and goes off the map then pan the map (click and hold mouse down, then drag) until you see the entire window; the Identify window does not move.

8. You can also hold the Shift key down and click and hold the mouse to draw a box map for zooming into a particular area.

9. Using Split View creates two maps. The left map is Full Map 1, the right map is Full Map 2. When you want to go back to viewing a single map you can choose Map 1 or Map 2 and switch between them without having to go back to Split View.

10. We do not recommend using the Coastal Defense app in Split View given the size of the input app window.

11. If you get lost in the tool you can always press CTRL + F5 and it will reset it. On an Apple machine the command is Command + R. These are your “start over” key strokes!

How does Coastal Resilience compare to other decision support tools?

Starting in 2008, The Nature Conservancy began in New York pioneering an approach to address coastal hazards risks by working with local and federal partners to map sea level rise, storm surge, social and economic assets, community vulnerability and natural resources and make the information available on the Web. This met a strong need among elected officials and local planners for access to data visualization tools, a decision support framework and resources for informing stakeholder engagement. Over time, our Coastal Resilience efforts have expanded and now include 12 U.S. coastal states, (Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington), four countries in Latin America (Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras) and in three island nations in the Caribbean (Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, U.S Virgin Islands). There are also global and U.S. national web maps that together form the Coastal Resilience network.