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Coastal Adaptation

Sustainable development along the United States’ coast is challenging for several reasons, including continual weathering and climatic shocks. These risks are expected to be exacerbated due to climate change. Communities can either continue with business as usual or adapt to increase their resilience to evolving risks such as increasing storm intensity, sea-level rise, and subsidence. There are currently a wide range of coastal adaptation responses being employed across the United States. The overall aim of this research is to develop a fundamental understanding of the variation in adaptation responses that directly impact households, how these responses were chosen, and also to determine whether the most vulnerable members of communities are benefiting from these responses. This research will specifically investigate national, state, and local policies (e.g. zoning restrictions) and infrastructure (e.g. seawalls) that can directly influence households’ adaptation decisions, with three coastal communities in the United States serving as case studies. The study will implement a combination of methods including diagnostics, a historical pathways analysis, and spatial statistics in order to understand successful pathways to effective adaptation and potential impediments to adaptation. The knowledge gained from this research will ultimately offer the ability to identify gaps in adaptation, track progress, and aid in future decision making.

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