Coastal Vulnerability

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Award Year: 
2016
Principal Investigator: 
Dean Hardy, SESYNC

As global sea-level rise continues to accelerate due to anthropogenic climate change, understanding why social groups are differentially vulnerable to environmental hazards becomes increasingly important. To better understand how broader socio-political and environmental conditions shape place-based vulnerability to sea-level rise, this project examines the relationship of the shifting cultural and ecological landscapes of Sapelo Island, Georgia over both time and space. To achieve this goal, the project will synthesize social and ecological data collected from oral histories and texts, natural resource management plans, settlement patterns, and at two longterm research programs located on Sapelo Island: the University of Georgia Marine Institute, which hosts the NSF Georgia Coastal Ecosystems Long-Term Ecological Research Program, and NOAA’s Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve. Through combining the methods of archival research and spatial analysis, this project will show how and explain why places on Sapelo Island and the people who live there are differentially vulnerability to sea-level rise and other environmental hazards more generally. It will highlight how land use histories and futures on Sapelo Island as well as shifting demographics in the only privately owned community, Hog Hammock, affect vulnerability. This project will show that vulnerability is never a static predetermined state, but a responsive condition to a multitude of factors that are always changing.

Associated SESYNC Researcher(s): 
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