Climate Change and Socioeconomics: A resilience based spatial outlook along US East Coast

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015
Ibraheem M. P. Khan, University of Maryland, College Park, Hyattsville, MD; and K. Hubacek

The physical and societal implications of climate change are interconnected at multiple spatial scales along coastal belts. Overall, resilience is a function of exposure (E), sensitivity (S), and adaptive capacity (AC). Coastal communities are more exposed and sensitive with expected sea-level rise in future and varying AC respectively. However, some communities may thrive under the looming threat of climate change because of good AC measures. The resilience of coastal communities to climate change is therefore dependent on the collective outlook of E, S, and AC sub-indicators. In current study, a set of socioeconomic variables drawn from population, stakeholders, income, and ecosystem services are analyzed to gauge the AC level of different communities due to climate change along US East Coast. Socioeconomic data is obtained from American community survey (ACS) at census tracts level. Historical weather data is obtained from National Climate Data Center (NCDC) for exposure variables (precipitation, temperature [min & max], sea-level rise, and number of cyclones). Climate and socioeconomic data are recorded at different scales and therefore normalized. Vulnerability quartiles (very highly, highly, moderately, and low) are used to classify coastal communities through qualitative and quantitative inspection. The effects of climate variability and change are assessed on different coastal communities using sub-indicators of E, S, and AC.