Capstone Title

Climate Change Risks, Ecosystem Feedback, Vulnerability and Resilience In Urbanized Coastal Zones

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Steffen Schmidt

Second Advisor

Amy C. Hirons

Third Advisor

Tamara Frank


Global climate change is one of the most critical issues of our time, and its ramifications are far reaching. Most global cities are located near the coasts (de Sherbinin et al. 2007) with many inhabiting low-lying coastal zones (de Sherbinin et al. 2007; McGranahan et al. 2007). This puts these cities at heightened risk of climate change hazards, but physical hazards alone will not predict the impacts of climate change.

While many models have been put forward to help predict the nature and extent of climate change impacts, most have focused on the physical and environmental processes at play and have done less to understand how physical hazards interact with social dynamics to create risks. Vulnerability and resilience research has recognized that social forces interact with exposure to hazards to create impacts but, in general, this work has focused narrowly on particular localities. Some papers have examined patterns that emerge within a broad selection of literature from different schools on climate change, disaster risk management, adaptation and response; they draw conclusions from these reviews that can point towards a more unified view to help make predictions that can be applied within wide ranging local contexts.

This paper reviews the literature of climate change, disaster risk management, adaptation, response and capacity, broadly, across research perspectives, but will focus mainly on the urbanized coastal zones (UCZ) for analysis of local case studies. Research of this type can point to some general conclusions that may guide policy formulation and create better adaptation interventions (Berrang-Ford et al. 2010).

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