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Systems Thinking Will “Support Informed Decision-making” on the Gulf Coast

June 29, 2018 |

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“Improved understanding of the coupled natural-human coastal system will help promote resilience of coastal communities and ecosystems under rapidly changing environmental conditions and support informed decision-making, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The physical and ecological systems, people, and economy in the Gulf Coast are inextricably linked. The natural system includes processes such as sea-level rise, subsidence, storm surges and flooding, sediment management, marsh and wetland loss, and conservation and restoration activities. The human system encompasses land use and coastal development, adaptation, and migration or relocation. The interactions and feedbacks between the natural and human systems are what make up the coupled system.

The committee that carried out the study and wrote the  identified three critical areas of research that could address gaps in high-priority scientific knowledge, helping to inform decision-making and research planning related to the strategic initiatives of the National Academies’ Gulf Research Program (GRP):

  • How will coastal landforms and coastal ecosystems along the Gulf Coast respond to rapidly changing conditions (both natural and human-induced), especially given the expectation for continued relative  acceleration?
  • How will human settlement and economic activity along the Gulf Coast respond to evolving coastal landforms and ecosystems under rapidly changing conditions?
  • How can improved understanding of both near- and long-term evolution of the Gulf Coast’s coupled natural-human system be applied to inform stakeholder decisions made at local, state, and regional levels? How will the coupled system evolve when decision-making is updated as scientific understanding advances?…”

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