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Reconstructing patterns of coastal risk in space and time along the US Atlantic coast, 1970–2016

Reconstructing patterns of coastal risk in space and time along the US Atlantic coast, 1970–2016
Reconstructing patterns of coastal risk in space and time along the US Atlantic coast, 1970–2016
Despite interventions intended to reduce impacts of coastal hazards, the risk of damage along the US Atlantic coast continues to rise. This reflects a long-standing paradox in disaster science: even as physical and social insights into disaster events improve, the economic costs of disasters keep growing. Risk can be expressed as a function of three components: hazard, exposure, and vulnerability. Risk may be driven up by coastal hazards intensifying with climate change, or by increased exposure of people and infrastructure in hazard zones. But risk may also increase because of interactions, or feedbacks, between hazard, exposure, and vulnerability. Using empirical records of shoreline change, valuation of owner-occupied housing, and beach-nourishment projects to represent hazard, exposure, and vulnerability, here we present a data-driven model that describes trajectories of risk at the county scale along the US Atlantic coast over the past 5 decades. We also investigate quantitative relationships between risk components that help explain these trajectories. We find higher property exposure in counties where hazard from shoreline change has appeared to reverse from high historical rates of shoreline erosion to low rates in recent decades. Moreover, exposure has increased more in counties that have practised beach nourishment intensively. The spatio-temporal relationships that we show between exposure and hazard, and between exposure and vulnerability, indicate a feedback between coastal development and beach nourishment that exemplifies the “safe development paradox”, in which hazard protections encourage further development in places prone to hazard impacts. Our findings suggest that spatially explicit modelling efforts to predict future coastal risk need to address feedbacks between hazard, exposure, and vulnerability to capture emergent patterns of risk in space and time.
1684-9981
2497-2511
Armstrong, Scott B.
83514fef-1710-4477-9e75-64425b2022b1
Lazarus, Eli
642a3cdb-0d25-48b1-8ab8-8d1d72daca6e
Armstrong, Scott B.
83514fef-1710-4477-9e75-64425b2022b1
Lazarus, Eli
642a3cdb-0d25-48b1-8ab8-8d1d72daca6e

Armstrong, Scott B. and Lazarus, Eli (2019) Reconstructing patterns of coastal risk in space and time along the US Atlantic coast, 1970–2016. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 19, 2497-2511. (doi:10.5194/nhess-19-2497-2019).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Despite interventions intended to reduce impacts of coastal hazards, the risk of damage along the US Atlantic coast continues to rise. This reflects a long-standing paradox in disaster science: even as physical and social insights into disaster events improve, the economic costs of disasters keep growing. Risk can be expressed as a function of three components: hazard, exposure, and vulnerability. Risk may be driven up by coastal hazards intensifying with climate change, or by increased exposure of people and infrastructure in hazard zones. But risk may also increase because of interactions, or feedbacks, between hazard, exposure, and vulnerability. Using empirical records of shoreline change, valuation of owner-occupied housing, and beach-nourishment projects to represent hazard, exposure, and vulnerability, here we present a data-driven model that describes trajectories of risk at the county scale along the US Atlantic coast over the past 5 decades. We also investigate quantitative relationships between risk components that help explain these trajectories. We find higher property exposure in counties where hazard from shoreline change has appeared to reverse from high historical rates of shoreline erosion to low rates in recent decades. Moreover, exposure has increased more in counties that have practised beach nourishment intensively. The spatio-temporal relationships that we show between exposure and hazard, and between exposure and vulnerability, indicate a feedback between coastal development and beach nourishment that exemplifies the “safe development paradox”, in which hazard protections encourage further development in places prone to hazard impacts. Our findings suggest that spatially explicit modelling efforts to predict future coastal risk need to address feedbacks between hazard, exposure, and vulnerability to capture emergent patterns of risk in space and time.

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Accepted/In Press date: 9 October 2019
Published date: 12 November 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 436321
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/436321
ISSN: 1684-9981
PURE UUID: 4584e51d-a6cc-493d-8596-76d5bace6f84
ORCID for Eli Lazarus: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2404-9661

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Date deposited: 06 Dec 2019 17:30
Last modified: 07 Oct 2020 02:13

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