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New NOAA Website Highlights Economic and Ecological Value of America’s Coast

June 22, 2010

NOAA today launched State of the Coast, an important new website that provides coastal managers, planners and officials at all levels of government a snapshot of statistics, facts and graphics about America’s 95,000-miles of coastline. The site provides the tools for better decision-making and for communicating the importance of healthy coastal ecosystems for a robust national economy and better quality of life.

Created and maintained by NOAA’s National Ocean Service, State of the Coast can be accessed online. Its indicators are based on longer-term, national datasets and do not currently reflect the ecological, economic and socials impacts of the BP oil spill on the Gulf Coast.

NOAA’s State of the Coast offers quick facts and detailed statistics about the coast's extraordinary benefits to society, but also its degraded state and continuing threats to its health, including impacts of a changing climate. The site also offers case studies and management success stories that highlight often complex connections across several themes.

Visualizations highlight important aspects of the nation’s coasts, such as anticipated changes in coastal population from 1970 to 2040, the impact coastal areas have on the U.S. economy, the overall health of the U.S. coasts and coastal areas’ vulnerability to long term sea level rise.

Important statistics listed on the website include:

  • Communities: Fifty-two percent of the nation’s total population live in 673 coastal counties in 2010 (17 percent of the total U.S. land area excluding Alaska).

  • Economy: Coastal counties contributed $7.9 trillion to GDP, more than half of the U.S. GDP in 2007.

  • Ecosystems: Seventy-five percent of U.S. coral resources in the Atlantic, Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico region are rated in “Poor” or “Fair” condition.

  • Climate: Sixteen percent of the U.S. population residing in the 100-year coastal flood hazard area were below poverty level in 2009.

With more than two dozen federal agencies contributing to the U.S. coastal management paradigm, NOAA’s State of the Coast has partnered with other federal agencies to present national-level assessments and datasets that tell the broader “story of the coast.” NOAA will continue to work with these partners over time to update the website with the most current and up to date information as it becomes available.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us on Facebook.