Case Study: Coastal Managment Tools
Oregon Coastal Atlas
The Oregon Coastal Atlas is a web-based portal to interactive maps, traditional information and digital data related to the state's 360 miles of shoreline for use by researchers, coastal managers and the general public to streamline decision-making; identify hazards; and promote understanding of risk.
Maps, digital data and metadata describing Oregon's coastal zone had been collected by local, state and federal agencies as well as researchers, but were generally unavailable or possibly not known outside the group that collected it. Additionally, the data was collected in a variety of formats, scales and projections making it difficult to use by anyone without adequate experience - limiting direct distribution to decision-makers and especially the general public.
The Oregon Coastal Atlas was designed and built to bring together these disparate data sources and distribute the geographical information as interactive maps, downloadable datasets and visualization tools. Recent advances in web-based mapping technologies play a large role in supporting the implementation of the Coastal Atlas.
In 2000, in order to implement the Coastal Atlas, the Oregon Ocean-Coastal Management Program formed a partnership with Oregon State University's Department of Geosciences and Ecotrust, a nonprofit organization that promotes conservation-based development. The project was initially funded by a four-year, $508,000 grant from the National Science Foundation and the Federal Geographic Data Committee with additional funding by the NOAA Coastal Services Center.
Web-based Maps and Tools:
The Coastal Atlas includes several decision-support tools that use GIS and simple mathematical models to help coastal managers, planners and scientists manage Oregon's shoreline. Tools include:
- Potential for Dune Overtopping Tool: which allows a user to project and map extreme ocean water level - an indicator of the potential for ocean flooding, or so-called "wave overtopping"
- Potential for Dune Undercutting Tool: which allows a user to project and map foredune retreat - an indicator of the potential for ocean erosion, or so-called "wave-undercutting"
- Potential for Bluff Recession Tool: which allows a user to project and map the potential for bluff recession due to erosion or landslides
- Coastal Inundation Visualization Tool: which,developed by NOAA's Coastal Services Center in conjunction with their Coastal Storms Program, uses real-time data to project potential wave inundation along the ocean shore near Tillamook, Oregon
The information can be used to evaluate the potential for erosion and establish appropriate setback distances along coastal margins for the safe establishment of homes and other infrastructure. The Inundation tool can also be used to improve forecasting and observation capabilities, and to assist in preparation for, and awareness of coastal storms.