"New Map Shows Where Nature Protects U.S. Coast"

"Coastal habitats like reefs and marshes protect people from natural disasters—in the right locations."

"Real estate is all about location, and coastal reefs and wetlands now look like especially attractive neighbors.

Americans looking to buy seaside property would do well to study the first ever nationwide map showing how and where natural habitats like reefs and vegetation best protect coastal residents from rising seas and catastrophic storms like last year's Hurricane Sandy. (See "Hurricane Sandy Pictures: Floods, Fire, Snow in the Aftermath.")

Shoreline engineering like seawalls can be effective but also expensive, environmentally undesirable, and a detriment to tourism and seaside recreation. But conserving and restoring nature's own coastal habitats can also help save lives. Now Stanford University's Katie Arkema and colleagues have provided a national map of where natural habitats do most reduce risk to people and property—and where they may need help.

Coastal habitats including marshes, dunes, seagrass beds, mangrove and other coastal forests, kelp forests, oyster beds, and coral reefs help keep waves and storm surge from flooding and eroding coastal property. Coral reefs, for example, can reduce the energy of waves that hit shore by 85 percent."

Brian Handwerk reports for National Geographic July 14, 2013.

SEE ALSO:

"Dunes, Reefs Protect U.S. Coasts From Climate Change" (USA TODAY)

Source: NatGeo, 07/16/2013