Evaluating Ecological and Geomorphic Trajectories of Beach Restoration to Inform Nature-Based Adaptation Approaches for Coastal Communities

Project Number
Project Date Range
Funding Agency
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Focus Area(s)
Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies




This project will focus on expanding expertise in dune restoration and implementation approaches to enhance coastal resilience, restore and preserve sandy habitats against sea level rise and other impacts of climate change.  



Planning for adaptation to sea level rise, storm erosion, flooding and other coastal hazards poses difficult challenges, particularly for highly populated urban communities along California’s coast, where southern California’s sandy beaches are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Nature-based approaches can be used to enhance resilience, restore and preserve sandy coastal ecosystems, including beaches and dunes, against sea level rise and other impacts of climate change. For urban communities, nature-based projects that restore linked beaches and dunes provide an adaptation strategy to increase the resilience of the coastline to sea level rise, flooding, erosion and storm events, but our understanding of these systems is severely limited.

This project is designed to improve our understanding of existing southern California dune restoration and adaptation projects and evaluate how these experimental projects have persisted and responded to coastal hazards over the last 5-20 years. The fellow will collect new standardized data on key metrics (e.g., vegetation cover, geomorphic variables) for a gradient of projects and integrate with existing data to develop a framework informing site suitability for future beach and dune restoration projects.

This researcher will share the results with relevant agencies and other organizations to inform coastal management and policy by evaluating trajectories and synthesizing expectations for beach and dune projects in southern California. 

Community Mentor: Megan Cooper (California State Coastal Conservancy)


Principal Investigators
Jenny Dugan
University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)
Co-principal Investigators
Karina Johnston
University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)