Coastal Flood Risk Reduction Program: Integrated, multi-scale approaches for understanding how to reduce vulnerability to damaging events

National Science Foundation Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE)

Overview of project

Coastal floods are the most costly, disruptive, and life-threatening hazard worldwide. The negative impacts of these storm events are increasing in the United States (U.S.) and abroad.  In response to this growing problem, this project will establish a research and education program on coastal Flood Risk Reduction (FRRP) between the U.S. and the Netherlands.  This international collaboration will support excellence in research and learning across the engineering and management sciences, leading to new knowledge that will transform the way floods are dealt with in the U.S and around the world.  Recognizing that now, more than ever, scientific innovation is needed to better understand the causes and consequences of coastal flooding, this project will bring together the world’s top researchers to generate new solutions that will help local decision makers reduce loss of both property and human lives in the future.

Multiple case studies in both countries integrating faculty from engineering, architecture, economics, and planning will address several research questions, including: 1) what are the underlying characteristics of physical flood risks; 2) why are human communities and the built environment so vulnerable to flood impacts, and how will this increase in the future; and 3) which mitigation techniques, both structural and non-structural, are most effective in reducing the adverse impacts of floods? Within each study region in the U.S. and the Netherlands, six sub-case study focal points will be initiated covering both surge-based and precipitation-driven flood problems. Each case will provide a target area for interdisciplinary assessments of physical flood risk and modeling, socioeconomic characteristics, land use change and built environment, and mitigation techniques. The effectiveness of both structural and non-structural strategies will be investigated, leading to a better understanding of when to pursue avoidance and resistance strategies for mitigating adverse impacts from flood events. An integral part of the project will be an educational component, where interdisciplinary, binational teams of students conduct place-based assessments within the six case studies. Graduate and undergraduate students will be recruited from all participating campuses, placed in interdisciplinary teams, guided by project faculty, and travel to one of the six research sites to conduct case study analysis. Another major component of the FRRP will be the collection, storage, and dissemination of data related to coastal flood issues, which will be hosted on a server network spanning multiple institutions so that information can be downloaded by participants.


"This research trip helped me visually understand the interaction between these structures and the built/human environment. I have gained tremendous leadership experience in mentoring both undergraduate and graduate students in achieving a successful research experience." – Kayode Atoba

"The opportunity to have discussions with professors from a wide variety of disciplines and universities also helped me figure out my academic and professional future." – George Barrow

"The most interesting part was the four different field trips which allowed me to learn more about engineering concepts that are less common from a North American point of view such as engineering/building with nature and multi-functional flood defenses. I came back to the US with new insights, ideas, and methods for my research and thesis. It also allowed me to build a network of contacts that will be helpful for my doctoral studies and my future research career." – Carl Bernier

"Being an undergraduate Offshore and Coastal Systems Engineering student, this trip has brought new ideas to my mind that I plan to incorporate into future projects."  – Deidra Dittmar

"The program's immersive structure involving site visits and expert interviews helped me gain a deeper appreciation for the research we were conducting and its implications for flood risk mitigation strategies in the upper Texas coast. I highly value the program's focus on engagement and interaction."  – Connie Do

"It gave me the chance to work in an interdisciplinary team, where I was exposed to many aspects of flood risk including social vulnerability, landscape planning, and risk communication. This program has pushed me to expand my research interests in order to foster collaboration with different fields and different universities."  – Avantika Gori

"I was taught how to formulate research questions and how to go about answering them. I was able to make lasting friendships with the participants of the trip and felt honored to be able to work and travel with such a fun, intelligent, and wonderful group of people." – Dominic Herkes

"I was provided a world class field experience in terms of understanding flood risk control strategies and mitigation. The design workshop at Petten was so effective in enhancing teamwork, leadership skills and multidisciplinary knowledge on flood management strategies." – Bella Jezierski

"This trip helped my rediscover my love for learning. I have gained skills that I will keep with me for a lifetime and friends that I hope to collaborate with often." – Sarah Reinert

"The NSF-PIRE program was a great stimulus that caused me to think about how a community can have a robust flood reduction system within multiple layers of strategies and how the system can reduce residential displacement caused by disasters." – Kijin Seong

"The NSF PIRE Coastal Flood Risk Reduction Program provides a unique opportunity to gain experience from not only multidisciplinary integration but also cross-cultural collaboration." – Siyu Yu

For questions about the Center:

Dr. Sam Brody
Ocean and Coastal Studies Building
1001 Texas Clipper Rd
Galveston, TX 77551
Bldg. 3029, Room 366
Phone (409) 740-4939
Fax (409) 740-4429

For media/meeting coordination:

Sarah Reinert
Communication Coordinator
Phone (817) 888-0002

CTBS Partners

 HARC logo HR&RC logo