CSO Newsletter

The Coastal States Organization represents the nation’s Coastal States, Territories, and Commonwealths on ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resource issues.

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Spotlight on Coastal Management:

NOAA Confirms 4th Global Coral Bleaching Event

 NOAA Coral Reef Watch's global 5km-resolution satellite Coral Bleaching Alert Area Maximum map, for January 1, 2023 to April 10, 2024. This figure shows the regions, around the globe, that experienced high levels of marine heat stress (Bleaching Alert Levels 2-5) that can cause reef-wide coral bleaching and mortality.

Image credit: NOAA

The world is currently experiencing a global coral bleaching event, according to NOAA scientists. This is the fourth global event on record and the second in the last 10 years.  

Bleaching-level heat stress, as remotely monitored and predicted by NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch (CRW), has been — and continues to be — extensive across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean basins. CRW's heat-stress monitoring is based on sea surface temperature data, spanning 1985 to the present, from a blend of NOAA and partner satellites.

"From February 2023 to April 2024, significant coral bleaching has been documented in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres of each major ocean basin," said Derek Manzello, Ph.D., NOAA CRW coordinator.

Since early 2023, mass bleaching of coral reefs has been confirmed throughout the tropics, including in Florida in the U.S.; the Caribbean; Brazil; the eastern Tropical Pacific (including Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia); Australia’s Great Barrier Reef; large areas of the South Pacific (including Fiji, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Samoas and French Polynesia); the Red Sea (including the Gulf of Aqaba); the Persian Gulf; and the Gulf of Aden.

NOAA has received confirmation of widespread bleaching across other parts of the Indian Ocean basin as well, including in Tanzania, Kenya, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Tromelin, Mayotte and off the western coast of Indonesia.

“As the world’s oceans continue to warm, coral bleaching is becoming more frequent and severe,” Manzello said. “When these events are sufficiently severe or prolonged, they can cause coral mortality, which hurts the people who depend on the coral reefs for their livelihoods.”

Coral bleaching, especially on a widespread scale, impacts economies, livelihoods, food security and more, but it does not necessarily mean corals will die. If the stress driving the bleaching diminishes, corals can recover and reefs can continue to provide the ecosystem services we all rely on.

“Climate model predictions for coral reefs have been suggesting for years that bleaching impacts would increase in frequency and magnitude as the ocean warms,” said Jennifer Koss, director of NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP).  

Because of this, the NOAA CRCP incorporated resilience-based management practices and increased the emphasis on coral restoration in its 2018 strategic plan, and funded a National Academies of Sciences’ study, which led to the publication of the 2019 Interventions to Increase the Resilience of Coral Reefs.

Koss said, “We are on the frontlines of coral reef research, management and restoration, and are actively and aggressively implementing the recommendations of the 2019 Interventions Report.”  

The 2023 heatwave in Florida was unprecedented. It started earlier, lasted longer and was more severe than any previous event in that region. During the bleaching event, NOAA learned a great deal while engaging in interventions to mitigate harm to corals. Through its Mission: Iconic Reefs program offsite link, NOAA made significant strides to offset some of the negative impacts of global climate change and local stressors on Florida’s corals, including moving coral nurseries to deeper, cooler waters and deploying sunshades to protect corals in other areas.   

This global event requires global action. The International Coral Reef Initiative offsite link (ICRI), which NOAA co-chairs, and its international members are broadly sharing and already applying resilience-based management actions and lessons learned from the 2023 marine heatwaves in Florida and the Caribbean. ICRI and its members are helping to advance coral interventions and restoration in the face of climate change by funding scientific research on best management practices and implementing its Plan of Action.

NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program is a partnership across multiple NOAA offices and programs that brings together expertise for a multidisciplinary approach to understanding and conserving coral reef ecosystems. Learn more here.

In the States and Territories

East Coast and Caribbean

 As Sea Level Rise Pinches Charleston, New Zoning Code Aims to Keep City Above Water

Charleston is overhauling its zoning code, and the city wants the public's input on the plan at an open meeting set for April 10. Local leaders hope the new guidelines can help keep the city above rising sea levels for a bit longer. The update of the city's zoning rules is the first comprehensive rewrite since 1966. Since then, Charleston has adopted piecemeal additions and changes to the code. The result, according to the project's planners, is a "lengthy, poorly organized document" that doesn't align with Charleston's current and future goals. Foremost among those goals? Balancing a booming population and a shrinking amount of safe ground. Sea levels in the Charleston area are predicted to rise about a foot by 2050. The city had a record 27 flood events rated "moderate" or higher in 2023. The total number of floods last year was 75, up from zero in 1923. Flooding frequency will increase as sea levels rise, as will the severity of individual events. "There have been some fairly aggressive actions that the community has already taken to deal with a rising water environment," Craig Richardson, a planner with Clarion Associates, which is overseeing the rewrite, said at a March 28 meeting of the city's Planning Commission. That includes rewriting the city's stormwater management rules, adopting a limited prohibition on slab-built homes and new building elevation requirements in often-flooded areas. Read more here.

New Hampshire Communities to Get $20M in Federal Funds to Repair Route 1A Coastal Flood Damage

Rye and North Hampton are slated to share more than $20 million to help address damage caused by coastal flooding along Route 1A. Nationally, The Federal PROTECT Discretionary Grant Program awarded $829.6 million to 80 recipients to fund projects that address the climate crisis by improving the resilience of the surface transportation system. The awards are located across 37 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and include seven tribal projects. The New Hampshire Department of Transportation will receive $20,258,400 to reconstruct coastal erosion protections along three miles of Route 1A between North Hampton and Rye, according to the grant award. "The improvements (are) expected to significantly reduce road closures and roadway clean-up in coastal communities vulnerable to the increasing intensity and frequency of coastal storms as well as rising sea levels," according to a prepared statement from the NHDOT. According to the NHDOT project plan, the work will be done through five construction contracts, addressing 14 revetment stone barriers and sea walls, over a five-year period. The project notes that Route 1A is a critical travel corridor, part of the Seabrook Station nuclear power plant emergency evacuation route. Read more here.

Gulf Coast

First-of-its-kind Study Shows Florida Wildlife Corridor Eases Worst Impacts of Climate Change

A first-of-its-kind study highlights how Florida can buffer itself against both climate change and population pressures by conserving the remaining 8 million acres of "opportunity areas" within the Florida Wildlife Corridor (FLWC). Currently, about 10 million acres of the expansive FLWC's 18 million acres are already conserved permanently. This superhighway of interconnected acres of wildlands, working lands and waters is the only designated statewide corridor in the United States, and a world-class adaption plan facing down ground zero of climate change in an already warm location. Spanning from Alabama to the Everglades, the FLWC not only protects endangered species like the Florida panther, but also brings economic and climate benefits to local communities. About 90% of Floridians live within 20 miles of the corridor. The new report, "The Florida Wildlife Corridor and Climate Change: Managing Florida's Natural and Human Landscapes for Prosperity and Resilience," is a joint project by Florida Atlantic University, Archbold Biological Station, Live Wildly Foundation and numerous collaborators. The report paints a holistic picture of how climate change and population growth will impact Florida's communities and natural resources, and how the FLWC, if it were fully enacted, can continue to moderate those impacts. Read more here.

Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Launches New Chandeleur Island Restoration Project Initiative

CPRA is currently in the engineering and design phase of the Chandeleur Island Restoration Project, which will restore 13 miles of the barrier island chain. Once complete, the restoration will increase the overall, long-term resiliency and sustainability of these landmasses. Included in the 2023 Coastal Master Plan and the Louisiana Wildlife Action Plan, the Chandeleur Islands Restoration Project will provide significant protection to several coastal communities through a whole ecosystem restoration approach intended to preserve, rebuild, and improve barrier island and marsh habitat with a special focus on birds, sea turtles, and sea grasses. Read more here.

Great Lakes

Citizen Science May Help Uncover Mysteries of Great Lakes Jellyfish Invasion

Global warming is fueling the spread of a jellyfish in the Great Lakes region and may foster harmful algae blooms and dead zones. The peach blossom jellyfish is native to warm freshwater in Southeast China, but it is present everywhere around the world except for Antarctica. Since the 1950s, it has been sighted in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and across Canada. Peach blossom populations in North America have grown significantly since 2020. The jellyfish is a warm water species, so as water temperatures increase as a result of climate change, northern lakes and ponds become more hospitable to it. [...]

One solution may be to recruit community members to help scientists understand nonindigenous species. In addition to species identification apps like iNaturalist that connect observations to researchers, people can submit reports to a national database of nonindigenous species through the U.S. Geological Survey. The peach blossom jellyfish can be found in a Great Lakes-specific species branch of the database called the Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System. “The Great Lakes are absolutely huge, and there are only a handful of researchers in comparison,” said El Lower, the Great Lakes systems communications specialist. “We can’t have eyes everywhere. This is one of the reasons we rely on public reports to get things done. It’s basically adding extra sets of eyes and hands out there.” Read more here.

Great Lakes Shipping Season Set to Kick Off in Manistee

The Great Lakes shipping season has begun and soon ports in places like Manistee will welcome the first large vessels of the year. The Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan opened to marine traffic on March 22, marking the start of the 2024 shipping season.

The shipping industry requested an early season opening due to the urging of major steel producers, according to a press release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“The St. Lawrence Seaway has announced that it will open this spring on March 22,” stated James Weakley, president of the Lake Carriers’ Association in the release. “We also note that the seaway strike in 2023 and extreme wind events toward the end of the last operating season left the fleet with undelivered cargo.” The locks were opened ahead of schedule, according to Army Corps Detroit District commander Lt. Col. Brett Boyle. 

“Our winter maintenance period is a critical time for us to invest in our aging locks,” Boyle said. “This year, a number of factors worked in our favor that allowed us to safely deliver this critical maintenance and also open to navigation traffic a few days early, with the St. Lawrence Seaway.” Read more here.

West Coast and Pacific

Draft Plan Outlines How Power Will Get from Offshore Wind Farms in Northern California to the Grid

A draft plan estimates it could cost up to $4.5 billion dollars to connect a future offshore wind energy project on the Northern California coast with the rest of the state’s electric grid. The California Independent System Operator, which oversees the operation of most of the state's power grid and transmission lines, released the 2023-2024 transmission plan on April 1. Almost all of the proposed $6.1 billion in spending to meet reliability and green energy needs would go to connecting planned offshore wind projects on the Northern California coast. Arne Jacobson from the Schatz Energy Research Center at Cal Poly Humboldt, who was not involved in the transmission plan, said the decision was made to transmit all the power over land using two new high-voltage lines. He said they chose not to use massive undersea cables to transport energy down the coast. “The undersea routes may be possible a bit out into the future,” Jacobson said. “But the technology for the undersea routes isn’t yet commercially available.” Read more here.

Makah Tribe to Use NOAA Funding for Ocean Data Mapping Needs

U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) announced that the Makah Indian Tribe will receive $288,482 in federal funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to support its ocean data mapping capabilities. The funding was made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and will build on prior ocean data and mapping support work by the Tribe, while also focusing on priorities identified by the Tribe and the West Coast Ocean Alliance. This includes tribal data sovereignty and student engagement. Kilmer says that this new federal funding will build upon a previous federal investment, aimed at enabling the Makah Tribe to continue to enhance their ability to execute regional ocean planning initiatives by increasing their mapping capabilities and allowing the ocean mapping specialist to continue providing data and mapping support to tribal staff and leadership, while also focusing on priority topics identified by the alliance, the West Coast Ocean Tribal Caucus, and the Makah Tribe. These include a focus on tribal data sovereignty, outreach to and education for the next generation of Makah resource managers, and a focus on ocean climate change and ocean energy data and research needs. Read more here. Learn about other awardees here.

Events & Webinars

April 18, May 2, May 16, 2024

April 28, 2024

May 12-16, 2024

May 13-14, 2024

May 15-17, 2024

June 4, 2024

June 23-27, 2024

October 6-10, 2024

October 7-9, 2024

NOAA Science Seminar Series

NOAA Digital Coast Training Calendar


[NEW] White House Announces Nearly $830 Million in Grants to Make Transportation Infrastructure More Resilient to Climate Change

The Biden-Harris Administration announced nearly $830 million in grant awards for 80 projects nationwide that will help states and local communities save taxpayers money while strengthening surface-transportation systems and making them more resilient to extreme weather events worsened by the climate crisis, flooding, sea-level rise, heat waves, and other disasters. These grants are the first of their kind dedicated to transportation infrastructure resilience and were made possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) Discretionary Grant Program, which complements PROTECT Formula funding that is already flowing to states for these types of projects. The full list of grant recipients is available here: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/protect/discretionary/grant_recipients/

[NEW] White House Releases Wetland and Water Protection Resource Guide

The White House Council on Environmental Quality released a Wetland and Water Protection Resource Guide for Tribes, States, Territories, local governments, private land owners, and non-governmental organizations to advance water resource protection. The Resource Guide highlights technical assistance and funding opportunities available across the federal government.

[NEW] FEMA's 2024 Resilient Nation Partnership Network Forum Series

In its 8th Partnership Forum, the Resilient Nation Partnership Network (RNPN) and Sundance Institute will explore how stories can build community resilience during this year’s Forum on “Stories of Resilience: Voices that Inspire.” RNPN will virtually hold “Tribal Migration: Adapting to Climate Hazards” on Thursday, April 25, 2024 at 1–3pm ET. You can register for these events here.

[NEW] FEMA Releases Recording of Latest From Policy to Action Webinar

A recording of the Partnerships in Planning for Coastal Resilience webinar is now available on FEMA’s Youtube channel. Coastal areas across the country are highly vulnerable to natural disasters, which have become more frequent and severe. Through partnerships, communities can leverage new resources to help address their unique coastal hazard risks. This webinar discusses how FEMA’s updated state and local mitigation planning policies support the need to plan for coastal hazards. It shows how efforts at both the state and local level are growing partnerships to drive coastal action. Watch the recording to hear how the state of Washington works across departments to support communities in moving from plans to projects. You’ll also learn how a diverse team of community partners is working together to identify mitigation projects in Crisfield, Maryland. Watch the recording and other webinars in the From Policy to Action webinar series on FEMA’s YouTube!

[NEW] VIMS Survey on Pathways to Ocean Science Careers

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science is collecting survey responses for their "Pathways to Ocean Science Careers" study. For the purpose of this study, they are including the sub-disciplines of estuary, coastal, great lakes, and marine science under the umbrella term Ocean Science. Additionally, they define "ocean science career" as any work related to oceans, estuaries, the coastal zone or great lakes regions, and our definition is not exclusive to academia. They seek survey respondents from industry, government, and non-profits as well. Take the survey here.

EPA Launches New Website to Improve Transparency in Permitting

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the launch of a new website, epa.gov/permits, a centralized web-based platform for information about federal environmental permitting. It highlights EPA’s permitting and environmental review programs and shares information on related statutes and environmental justice initiatives. In support of EPA’s commitments under Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST-41), it also displays the status of EPA permits for large scale infrastructure projects covered by this statute. The website is a resource for the public, permit applicants and federal agency partners. The new website provides: Centralized information about all EPA permitting programs, information on delegations of authority to states and descriptions of other requirements that are often applicable (such as Endangered Species Act and National Historic Preservation Act consultation); Public-facing reports and resources, including environmental justice and civil rights in permitting information; FAST-41 information, including an explanation of EPA’s roles under the Act and a table that shows the status of EPA permits needed for FAST-41 projects and project tracking; Inflation Reduction Act information regarding funding allocated to EPA for improving efficiencies in permitting. Learn more here and access the new site here.

NOAA's Annual Coastal Management in Action Photo Contest

From ensuring public access to balancing development with natural areas, coastal management keeps our coasts thriving. For the eighth annual coastal management photo contest, NOAA's Office for Coastal Management wants to see your photos of coastal management in action. Show off your natural infrastructure projects, beautiful beaches you work to protect, recreational uses, and more! Find inspiration from the list of nine categories. Submit photos to the eighth Coastal Management photo contest. Winners will be chosen by a panel of judges and will be featured on the NOAA Digital Coast social media accounts during the month of May. Submit your photos by Friday May 3, 2024.

Job Openings

In The States

[NEW] San Francisco Bay Conservation & Development Corporation - Principal Shoreline Development Analyst

[NEW] San Francisco Bay Conservation & Development Corporation - Shoreline Development Analyst

Maine, Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, Municipal Planning Assistance Program - Senior Coastal Planner

California Coastal Commission - Multiple Coastal Program Positions

In The Agencies

[NEW] NOAA Office for Coastal Management - Physical Scientist

[NEW] NOAA National Ocean Service - Program Analyst

NOAA - Regional Administrator Pacific Islands Regional Office

Environmental Protection Agency - Director, Gulf Ecosystem Measurement and Modeling Division

In NGOs, Industry, and Academia

[NEW] San Francisco Estuary Institute - Environmental Scientist

[NEW] Surfrider Foundation - Coasts and Climate Graduate Student Internship

[NEW] The Aspen Institute - Digital Communications and External Affairs Senior Associate (Ocean & Climate)

[NEW] Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center - Post Doctoral Research Scholar (Climate Justice)

[NEW] The Nature Conservancy - North Carolina, Freshwater Applied Scientist

[NEW] The Nature Conservancy - North Carolina, Coastal Applied Scientist

National Wildlife Federation - Senior Manager, Coastal Resilience

Pensacola and Perdido Bays Estuary Program - Project Coordinator

New England Aquarium - Senior Policy Advisor

Pew - Senior Associate, Ocean Governance

National Academies of Science Gulf Research Program, Program for Local Adaptation to Climate Effects & The Water Institute - Future Coastal Leaders Fellowship

LegacyWorks - Northwest Florida Sentinel Landscape Resilience Specialist

Deep South Environmental Law Center - HBCU Environmental Justice & Climate Corps Internship

Job Boards

Office for Coastal Management State Programs

Sea Grant Careers Page


The views expressed in articles referenced here are those of the authors and do not represent or reflect the views of CSO.

If you have a news item or job posting to include in future CSO Newsletters, please send an email to: atomson@coastalstates.org with a subject line: "Newsletter Content". Please include the information to be considered in the body of the email.

Please note: CSO reserves final decision regarding published newsletter content and may not use all information submitted.

Coastal States Organization | 50 F Street. NW, Suite 570, Washington, DC 20001 | 202-508-3860 | cso@coastalstates.org | www.coastalstates.org
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