The research approach of the Southwest Washington Coastal Erosion Study has been devised to integrate multi-disciplinary scientific research results for planning applications spanning tens of kilometers on a decadal scale. The research plan was developed in recognition of the need to provide information for resolving coastal erosion crises and reducing future impacts of hazards associated with coastal development. At the outset of the Study, temporary measures directed at mitigating the initial impacts of erosion on existing development were implemented to afford communities sufficient time and information to develop strategies leading towards long-term solutions. The importance of predicting future shoreline positions (decadal scale) for developing viable long-term management alternatives became a driving influence on the design of the Study.
Another critical issue facing the coastal management community was the lack of regional, long-term data sets for the development of coastal management plans. Existing data sets were established in conjunction with site-specific projects, providing little consideration of regionally or temporally variable coastal behaviour. Sparse information at isolated project locations provided the impetus to develop regional and long-term data in an effort to provide context for addressing site-specific problems. The Study has therefore been designed to investigate this coastal region from a systems perspective and include assessments of the relevant factors that influence coastal change.