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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

"Sea-level Rise, Coastal Change, and Decision Making in an Uncertain Future"

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 | 10:30 am
Or join us LIVE: 134 Morrill Science Center Conference Room
Rob Thieler Robert Thieler, USGS
Research Geologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center

Assessing the potential vulnerability of the coastal zone to sea-level rise (SLR) requires integrating a variety of physical, biological, and social factors. These include landscape, habitat, and resource changes, as well as the ability of society and its institutions to adapt. The range of physical and biological responses associated with SLR is poorly understood at some of the critical time and space scales required for decision making. Limitations in the ability to quantitatively predict outcomes at local, regional, and national scales affect whether, when, and how some decisions will be made. The USGS and collaborators are developing scientific knowledge and tools to understand and anticipate the magnitude and likelihood of future SLR impacts. Recent work to develop probabilistic frameworks that capture potential outcomes and communicate scientific uncertainty shows great promise as a means to engage both scientists and decision makers in the development of decision tools, as well as to inform science activities that will result in more useful predictions and products for management. Examples include shoreline change, coastal landscape evolution, barrier island groundwater resources, and piping plover habitat.
Bio:  Rob Thieler is a Research Geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Woods Hole, MA who studies the geologic framework and evolution of the coastal zone. This includes understanding relationships between geology, sediment transport, sea-level change, and coastal erosion. He has conducted assessments of sea-level rise vulnerability for the U.S. and locations worldwide. Rob also developed the widely-used DSAS software package for measuring coastal erosion and accretion and has recently gotten into smartphone applications for coastal science.