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Coastal zones in the US and around the globe already show the impacts of environmental variability and climate change as well as natural hazards on human settlements. In general, coastal population growth and urbanization rates are higher in coastal regions than in inland communities (Neumann, 2015). In the US, more than 50% of the population lives in a coastal watershed county, and population density in coastal counties is five times greater than population density in inland counties (NOAA, 2013). Population growth and development are important drivers of change in coastal communities, and exert pressure on coastal ecosystems through increased utilization and pollution (Neumann, 2015). Understanding human and environmental impacts along our coastline is critical for securing  economic prosperity, environmental sustainability, and national security.

Seattle, Washington


In 2019, the Innovator Program invited interdisciplinary research proposals on coastal processes, the built environment, and the people that inhabit coastal regions. The 2019-2020 Research Theme included topics spanning weather to climate, terrestrial/atmospheric processes that influence coastal communities, the built environment, national security, ecological systems, and include human dimensions research.

Successful applicants proposed creative, effective research plans that adopted a convergence research approach and leveraged expertise at NCAR. Proposals that engaged under-represented groups and built on broadening participation efforts of the NSF were encouraged.

Coastal regions included:

  • Open-facing coastlines, coastlines of the Great Lakes, the Gulf, and the Arctic.
  • Catchment areas of coastal regions
  • Applications/proposals with a geographical focus outside of the US are also welcome, as long as the methods, outcomes or lessons learned are transferable to US coastlines and the justification for such is detailed in the proposal.