The 2,479th Meeting of the Society

June 16, 2023 at 8:00 PM

Powell Auditorium at the Cosmos Club

The Ike Dike Project to Protect Texas Coasts

Responding to Rapid Climate and Land Use Change

William Merrell & Sam Brody

William Merrell
Professor and George P. Mitchell Chair
Department of Marine and Coastal Environmental Science
Texas A&M University at Galveston

Sam Brody
Professor, Department of Marine and Coastal Environmental Science
Texas A&M University at Galveston

Sponsored by PSW Science Members Brett Magaram & Robin Taylor and Larry Millstein

About the Lecture

Despite efforts to mitigate the adverse impacts of flooding across the United States (U.S.), losses from both acute and chronic events continue to rise, particularly in low-lying coastal areas. Increasing climate change risk combined with rapid land use change and development in flood-prone areas has amplified the adverse economic and human impacts in recent years. Adapting to climate-induced and human development changes has become a paramount issue for coastal cities in the U.S. While these cities continue to incur billions of dollars in flood losses every year, the U.S. flood mitigation system remains rooted in a recovery-based approach, which accepts failure to prevent flood damages and focuses on policies that encourage rapid building and recovery in flood-prone areas.

After Hurricane Ike in 2008 caused catastrophic impacts to the Houston-Galveston region of the Upper Texas Coast, flood risk reduction proposals have shifted to a more protection-based approach focusing on mitigating flood risk before an event takes place or eliminating it altogether. Input from researchers and practitioners in the U.S. and the Netherlands coalesced into a multidisciplinary proposal to protect one of the country’s most critical economic centers from future storm surge impacts called a Coastal Spine (aka, the “Ike Dike”). This presentation will trace the intellectual roots, research findings, and policy process of the Texas Coastal Spine for flood risk reduction, which is now the largest approved U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project in history. We will discuss the implications of adopting this protection-based, multifunctional approach as a pathway for more effectively protecting coastal communities in the face of exponentially increasing flood risk.

Selected Reading & Media References
Brody, S.D., +Lee, Y.J., Kothuis, B. (eds.). (2022). Coastal Flood Risk Reduction in the Netherlands and the U.S. Upper Texas Coast. Elsiver Press.

Brody, S.D., +Atoba, K., +Highfield,W., +Sebastian, A., +Blessing, R., +Mobley, W., +Stearns, L. (2021). A Comprehensive Framework for Coastal Flood Risk Reduction: Charting a Course Towards Resiliency. In Carolyn Kousky, Bill Fleming, and Alan Berger (eds.), Blueprint for Coastal Adaptation. Washington, DC: Island Press.

Davlasheridze, Meri, *Atoba, K.O., Brody, S.D., +Highfield, W.E., Merrell, W., Ebersole, B., Purdue, A., Gilmer, R. (2019). Economic Impacts of Storm Surge and the Cost-Benefit Analysis of a Coastal Spine as The Surge Mitigation Strategy in Houston-Galveston Area of Texas in the United States. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 24: 329-354.

Atoba, Kayode, Brody, S.D., +Highfield, W.E., Merrell, W.J. (2018). Estimating Residential Property Loss Reduction from a Proposed Coastal Barrier System in the Houston-Galveston Region. Natural Hazards Review 19(3): 05018006.

About the Speaker