Pacific Northwest
Oregon coastal bluff erosion

OR - OSU to Engage with Communities, Students for Improving Coastal Resilience

It is likely common knowledge by this point that coastal communities in the Pacific Northwest are significantly threatened by a major earthquake from the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a “megathrust” fault stretching over 600 miles along the Pacific shoreline from Cape Mendocino, California to Vancouver Island, Canada.

On top of this, the Cascadia region also faces chronic risks such as flooding, coastal erosion, and sea level rise as a result of climate change — to the ever-widening detriment of its human and nonhuman inhabitants.  

To help strengthen the resilience of PNW coastal communities, which are at risk of becoming increasingly vulnerable to geological and mounting climate-related hazards, Oregon State University and the University of Washington have been selected by the National Science Foundation to lead a collaborative project known as the Cascadia Coastlines and Peoples Hazards Research Hub, or Cascadia CoPes Hub.  

The hub is part of the NSF’s Coastlines and People Program, which supports holistic research approaches to transforming understanding of, responses to, and mitigation of the unique hazards that populated coastal areas face — the end goal being to improve their resilience in the process.  

“There are many dimensions to resilience, including quality of life, economics, health, engineering and more,” said Peter Ruggiero, the project’s principal investigator and a professor in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences.  

While the project will involve partnerships with other major institutions and agencies like the U.S. Geological Survey, fostering collaborations with local, vulnerable communities to help shape the research will remain a top priority. According to Ruggerio, the project intentionally emphasizes incorporating Traditional Ecological Knowledge, or TEK, from the Cascadia region’s Indigenous Tribes; the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community are among the project’s various partners. In addition, the project seeks to incorporate the local knowledge of fishermen, farmers, and others who have had personal experiences with the region’s ecological challenges and are able to provide insights on what coastal resilience means to their communities.  

Read more.