Events & Media

The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
at the University of California, Santa Barbara




"How Big Should My Water Wings Be? Coastal Risk Awareness and Management"

Margaret Davidson
Director, Office of Coastal Resources Management
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Thursday, April 18, 2013
11:30 - 12:30
Bren Hall 1414

— Hosted by Steve Gaines

The recent devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy along a vast swath of the East Coast of the United States made clear just how vulnerable coastal communities are to sea-level rise resulting from climate impacts. Since 1980, roughly half of the nation’s new residential building permits have been issued in coastal counties, resulting in greater economic and population exposure in those areas. When an event such as Hurricane Sandy occurs, already vulnerable communities face an increased risk of harm – to the built environment, to economic sectors and associated livelihoods, and to overall human well-being. Storm surge flooding and sea-level rise pose significant threats to public and private infrastructure that provides energy, sewage treatment, drinking water, and transportation of people and goods.

Predicting and preparing for the interactions between climate-related vulnerabilities and other stressors in the coastal zone pose numerous analytical challenges, particularly given the current lack of quantitative multi-stressor vulnerability assessments. The insurance industry needs such knowledge as it seeks cost-effective ways to incorporate climate-related risk into its rate-setting practices and other investment decisions and to deal with low-probability, high-severity weather events. And as the Department of Defense (DoD) considers the impacts of climate change on coastal installations, operations, and military readiness, it requires actionable climate information and projections at mission-relevant time and space scales to maintain effective training, deployment, and force sustainment capabilities. "

In this talk, Ms. Davidson will address the perception and management of risk by examining relevant factors ranging from the geophysical to the political. How we approach risk now will shape our future exposure, and the costs associated with major environmental events."

An active participant in coastal resource management issues since 1978, Margaret Davidson earned her JD in natural resources law from Louisiana State University. She later earned a master's degree in marine policy and resource economics from the University of Rhode Island. Ms. Davidson holds a faculty appointment at the University of Charleston and serves on the adjunct faculties of Clemson University and the University of South Carolina. She has served on numerous local, state, and federal committees and provided leadership for national professional societies. She has focused her professional work on environmentally sustainable aquaculture, mitigation of coastal hazards, and impacts of climate variability on coastal resources. She served as the acting assistant administrator for NOAA's National Ocean Service from 2000 to 2002.

The Zurich Financial Services Distinguished Visitors Program on Climate Change allows the Bren School to attract international leaders in environmental policy, law, business, and science to enrich and expand the intellectual life of the Bren School community and share insight on issues critical to climate change. Activities of the visitors, who are in residence for periods ranging from one week to one quarter, include teaching short courses, offering public lectures, conducting seminars, and leading colloquia and symposia planned around their research, professional endeavors, or areas of expertise.


To join the "bren-alerts" mailing list and receive announcements about Bren School news and events, or to manage your bren-alerts account, go to

To see a complete list of currently scheduled Bren events, visit

To have an event considered for distribution via bren-alerts, send e-mail to

For more information or for assistance in accommodating a disability, please contact BJ Danetra

To find out how to support the Bren School, please contact Jennifer Purcell Deacon