Coastal Wetlands and Sea-Level Rise: A Case for Climate Adaptation Zones in Coastal Georgia

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Everhart, Justina
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There exists within the scientific community overwhelming consensus that global sea level rise and temperature fluctuations are facilitating coastal change. Depending on local conditions, these potentially devastating byproducts of climate change introduce a diverse set of challenges, particularly to coastal wetlands and those who inhabit coastal cities. Coastal Georgia, for example, is already experiencing the increasing costs associated with maintenance and reconstruction of property and critical infrastructure that has been damaged by sea level rise (SLR) and more frequent, intense storm events; property damages alone have undergone a 300 percent increase in annual losses since 1940, reaching an approximate $1.5 billion each year from 1960 to 1980 (Horin et al. 2008, 13). Through this work, the potential vulnerability of Georgia’s coastal wetlands to climate change is explored via identification of locations where inland wetland migration might be interrupted, which will facilitate identification of potential wetland migration corridors. From this analysis, the following questions are posed: 1. What existing areas can potentially serve as future wetland sites, and how much area is available for inland migration? 2. How connected are current and future migration corridors to both existing tidal wetlands and to existing conservation areas and/or public lands? 3. How can the designation of climate adaptation zones facilitate wetland migration?
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Applied Research Paper
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