Sea level rise (SLR) will exert pressures on assets with social value, including things such as infrastructure and habitats, in the coastal zone. Assessing and ranking the vulnerability of those assets can provide insights that support planning and projects that can reduce those vulnerabilities. In this study, we develop a quantitative, data-drive framework for calculating a sea level rise vulnerability score, using publicly available spatial data, for 111,239 parcels in Puget Sound, Washington State, USA. Notably, our approach incorporates an assessment of coastal erosion, as well as coastal flooding, in an evaluation of the exposure of each parcel, and impacts to habitats are quantified alongside impacts to existing infrastructure. The results suggest that sea level rise vulnerability in Puget Sound is widely distributed, but the overall distribution of scores is heavily skewed, suggesting that adaptation actions directed at a relatively small number of parcels could yield significant reductions in vulnerability. The results are also coupled with a concurrently developed social vulnerability index, which provides additional insight regarding those people and places that may be predisposed to adverse impacts from SLR-related hazards. We find that the proposed approach offers advantages in terms of advancing equitable SLR-related risk reduction, but also that the results should be carefully interpreted considering embedded assumptions and data limitations.
Keywords: sea level rise; vulnerability; climate; resilience; coastal management; coastal policy; GIS; spatial analysis
A Data-Driven Approach for Assessing Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Applied to Puget Sound, Washington State, USA