Sustainable Adaptive Gradients in the coastal Environment (SAGE)

This page is for information sharing regarding resilient coastal infrastructure, a US National Science Foundation funded project hosted at the University of Massachusetts.

For more information:

NSF Research Collaboration Network (RCN): Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES)
Project title: Sustainable Adaptive Gradients in the Coastal Environment (SAGE): Reconceptualizing the Role of Infrastructure in Resilience

NSF PIs and Co-PIs: Elisabeth Hamin (UMass Amherst, Regional Planning). Co-PIs: Don DeGroot (UMass Amherst, CEE), Melissa Kenney (Univ of Maryland, Decision Science), Thomas Sheahan (Northeastern, CEE).
Steering Committee: David Dodman (International Institute for Environment and Development, Governance & Equity), Fernando Gilbes (Univ. of Puerto Rico, Geology), Tania del Mar Lopez-Morrero (Rutgers, Geography), Brian McAdoo (Yale-NUS College, Earth Sci.), Farrokh Nadim (NGI/ICG Oslo, Geohazards), Leonard Nurse (U. of West Indies, Coastal Hazards), Roger Pulwarty (NOAA, Climatology).
Award Number: ICER-1338767
Project period: January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2018

The core objective of the Sustainable Adaptive Gradients in the coastal Environment (SAGE) Research Coordination Network (RCN) is to develop a transdisciplinary network of researchers and policymakers focusing on the Caribbean and U.S. Northeast that will put forward a shared framework for better informing resilient coastal infrastructure decisions based on physical, natural, and societal conditions. The network of US, Caribbean and European engineers, geoscientists, ecologists, social scientists, planners and policymakers is designed to build connections among diverse disciplines and improve the flow of information among leading researchers worldwide who are working on these topics. The RCN’s products will be annual, intensive three- to four-day workshops, webinars, a training module synthesizing our findings, a survey of educational pathways in resilient infrastructure, journal publications and white-papers for policymakers translating our research findings into accessible language. All of these activities are intended to promote a diverse and comprehensive research network that fosters the future development of transformative, policy-relevant research initiatives. A new resilient infrastructure framework serves as the basis for this RCN, and includes understanding communities as existing and evolving within adaptive gradients, addressing spill-over and equity effects of infrastructure decisions, using evidence regarding the impacts of fast-onset disasters (e.g., hurricanes, tsunamis) to improve practices and policies for chronic, slow-onset phenomena (e.g. sea level rise), and tying the application of our theory to increasingly available indicators of climate change and local conditions. Caribbean region researchers and policy-makers are key partners in this effort as they bring extensive practical and research experience in managing disaster risk and recent highly innovative regional approaches to adapting to climate change.

Recent storm events in the U.S. Northeast demonstrate that there is a pressing need for coordinated research into the resilience of coastal infrastructures to current hazards and the evolving effects of climate change. Infrastructure here includes physical structures, ecological services, and the social practices that influence the impact of hazards such as hurricanes and coastal flooding. Caribbean communities have long experience with planning for and responding to coastal hazards, while the Northeast has sophisticated infrastructural and research capacity on this topic. This project will create a network of US, Caribbean and European engineers, geoscientists, ecologists, social scientists, planners and policymakers to develop and promote a robust interdisciplinary analytic framework for the wide range of possible infrastructure responses to coastal hazards, including social, ecological, and engineering/technical factors. This will allow policy-makers to have clearer selection criteria for location-appropriate and climate-adapted sustainable coastal infrastructure policy. Coordination of research between the two regions opens possibilities for improving the long-term sustainability of coastal communities in both locations by improving decision-making regarding effective and sustainable new infrastructure. The project will generate greater participation among US minority students and researchers in, and improve student and professional access to, training in coastal resilient infrastructure design, planning and policy-making.