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GIS-Based Modeling of Sea Level Rise Effect on Coastal Property Management Policies

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Florida is threatened by sea level rise (SLR) because of its low elevation and populous coastlines. With only a 0.3 m future water level rise, most of Florida's natural beaches will disappear; with a 1.2 m rise, 2.4 million people will be displaced and 730,000 hectares of land lost. The only way to combat this threat is through coastal policy making. Currently, counties in Florida have no way to choose “good” policies due to the lack of needed information. Using high-resolution digital elevation models (DEM) derived from airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) measurements, parcel data, and beach transects from the Army Corps of Engineers, the effects of Sea Level Rise (SLR) on two study areas in Key West (Monroe County) and Pinellas County were analyzed in this study, under three policy scenarios: armoring prohibition, armoring, and relocation (rolling easements). To better address the SLR uncertainty, a range of SLR estimates from 0.15 m to 1.35 m, in 0.15 m increments, was used to simulate the three policy options. Each policy scenario was considered in view of selected primary criteria for each policy, obtained from literature and simulating them using ArcGIS. The results show that Key West would be rapidly inundated by rising waters, leaving little room for “relocation” but the mainland of Pinellas would be inundated much more slowly, allowing for progressive policy options to be implemented.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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