Natural and nature-based features for coastal resilience

Natural and nature-based features for coastal resilience

Bret Webb, Professor, Civil, Coastal, and Environmental Engineering, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL

Join us for the live stream March 2, 11:45am EST:
(Please visit our youtube channel main page for the stream if there are any issues with the direct link.)


With approximately 14% of the U.S. shoreline now armored, and much larger proportions of armoring along urban estuary shorelines, the need for adopting Natural and Nature-Based Features (NNBF) in environmental management and regulation policies is growing more important. This presentation will summarize some of the best available science describing the physical performance and resilience of NNBF, including quantitative information where available. Significant knowledge gaps and implementation challenges will also be highlighted. Published literature suggests that there are some existing methods for quantifying the effects of NNBF on storm surge, waves, and erosion. For example, the published literature contains references to the wave tolerance and attenuating capabilities of aquatic vegetation, maritime forests, and reef systems. However, with few exceptions these capabilities have not been described in an engineering or risk-based context. A notable exception is our understanding of the protection that a coastal dune provides against coastal storm surge (and waves). Our community of professionals—in academia and practice—should look for opportunities to expand similar risk-based formulations to other common NNBF for the purpose of engineering design.


Bret Webb is a Professor of Coastal Engineering at the University of South Alabama. Dr. Webb’s research interests fall within the broad topic of coastal resilience. His current research focuses on two different aspects of coastal resilience: resilience of the built environment to extreme events, and how that resilience is enhanced through the use of natural and nature-based features. Bret is currently working on a few nationwide projects related to natural and nature-based features, like living shorelines, and is also co-editor of an upcoming book on living shorelines. In addition to Bret’s research at USA, he is also a registered professional engineer (AL, FL) and often consults on living shoreline and other coastal engineering projects. Bret is also endorsed by the Academy of Coastal, Ocean, Port, and Navigation Engineers as a Board Certified Coastal Engineer.