We have three research groups:
Our current research projects fall into four research themes:
Marine Ecosystems and Habitats
This theme emphasizes ecosystem monitoring using new and established tools and approaches; large-scale environmental and small-scale process studies for understanding ecosystem health, habitat function, and environmental change; modeling and forecasting activities that use current and past ecological, environmental and socio-economic data.
Protection and Restoration of Marine Resources
This theme emphasizes the assessment, spatial planning, distributions and genetics of managed species in marine as well as estuarine habitats.
Seafloor Processes: Earth-Ocean Interactions
This theme emphasizes seafloor spreading-center activity, volcanism and hydrothermal systems and assess their impacts on the physical, chemical and biological components of the world oceans: using the most advanced technologies in seafloor imaging, and physical, chemical, and biological oceanography.
This theme emphasizes the marine soundscape: monitoring the levels of naturally-occuring and man-made noise in the oceans, and assessing their impacts on marine life; using the most advanced technologies for acoustic surveys in coastal and deep-ocean environments, especially remote areas of the global oceans. This includes the field of Bioacoustics.
We have two new theme groups:
Coastal Mapping and Monitoring
This research emphasizes collection, analysis and interpretation of geospatial data to understand and monitor our changing coasts, enhance coastal resilience, and to inform coastal management and resource decisions. Coastal regions are increasingly threatened by a number of hazards, including hurricanes, tsunamis, nor’easters, dune and bluff erosion, and sea level rise. Preparing for and responding to these threats requires accurate, up-to-date geospatial data (i.e., map data and information with spatial coordinates), in order to analyze coastal change, predict inundation under various storm and sea level rise scenarios, design evacuation routes, implement protection strategies, and effectively manage our coasts. Unfortunately, the coastal zone is one of the most challenging areas in which to collect geospatial information—especially, in the nearshore zone, where breaking waves, wind, surf, suspended sediment, and rapid morphological change can impede even the most advanced surveying and mapping technologies. Researchers working on projects within this theme are investigating new mapping and monitoring technologies, ranging from unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to autonomous boats, light detection and ranging (lidar), hyperspectral imagery, satellite imagery, and global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) to address these challenges. CIMRS-affiliated faculty and students are using the data to create seamless topographic-bathymetric models, monitor shoreline change and erosion, model hurricane and tsunami inundation, map benthic habitats, and a range of other applications. The results of this research are being used by NOAA NOS and other agencies to support safe marine navigation, monitor harmful algal blooms, map coral reef ecosystems, and prepare for hurricanes, oil spills and other events. Due to the critical nature of coastal geospatial data in supporting policies and management decisions, a related focus area within this theme is uncertainty analysis. Researchers are developing new tools and algorithms for quantifying uncertainty in geospatial data and derived information, including inundation models, coastal erosion, and nearshore bathymetry. A critical aspect of this work involves investigating new methods of communicating uncertainty information to managers and policy makers.
Coastal and Marine Natural Infrastructure
This theme seeks to advance the science of coastal and marine ecosystem services by combining research expertise in environmental and resource economics, ecology, geomorphology, geomatics, and engineering in an integrative framework.
This research program focuses on natural infrastructure, which we define broadly as a physical stock that constitutes restoration of natural ecosystem components. We aim to understand the nature and determinants of socially-optimal investment in natural infrastructure in coasts and estuaries through a transdisciplinary lens. Concentrating on a selection of natural infrastructure types, including estuaries and dunes, we measure the expected economic benefits of an investment to society, expected direct costs, and expected co-benefits from provision of ancillary ecosystem services. We are investigating four distinct systems on the Pacific Northwest coast that serve as applied pathways for our work. The project pathways focus on:
Quantifying the value of both private and public coastal protection options, the determinants of private coastal protection decisions, and simulating different future coastal management alternatives.
Coastal dune and beach management options optimized for ecosystem service provision.
Restoring coastal wetlands and the resulting implications for anadromous fish (i.e. salmon), water quality, blue carbon, and land markets in estuarine systems.
Allocating land use and construction of natural infrastructure to facilitate tsunami evacuation and provide other ecosystem services (i.e., recreation).