A 12-year “hurricane drought” during which no major hurricanes formed in the Atlantic ended dramatically in 2017. The devastating impacts of Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria across the United States and the Caribbean provide tragic reminders of the catastrophic risks we face on our coasts.
Coastlines are being developed rapidly and intensely in the United States and worldwide. The population of central and south Florida, for example, has grown by six million since 1990. Many of these cities and towns face the brunt of damage from hurricanes and are looking for better and cheaper ways to reduce their risks. Yet this rapid coastal development is destroying natural ecosystems like marshes, mangroves and coral reefs – resources that help protect us from catastrophes.
In a new and unique partnership funded by Lloyd’s of London, we worked with colleagues in academia, environmental organizations and the insurance industry to calculate the financial benefits that coastal wetlands provide by reducing storm surge damages from hurricanes. Our recently published study found that this function is enormously valuable. It offers new evidence that protecting natural ecosystems is a cost-effective way to reduce risks from coastal storms and flooding. Coastal wetlands and […]