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U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1146

Coastal Vulnerability Assessment of the Northern Gulf of Mexico to Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Change


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Coastal vulnerability index assessments can provide insight into the relative potential of coastal change due to future sea-level rise. The maps and data presented here illustrate the versatility of coastal vulnerability assessments, provide a comparison between original and updated CVIs, and show that updating variable data can increase the quality of these assessments. CVI data can be used in at least two ways: (1) as a way of identifying areas where physical changes are most likely to occur as sea-level rises and (2) as a planning tool for managing and protecting resources along the Northern Gulf of Mexico.

As determined in this study, relative sea-level change, shoreline change or land-loss rate, and wave height are the most important variables in determining a CVI for the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Coastal Louisiana may be the most vulnerable to the effects of future sea-level rise and coastal change in this region, due to the high rates of relative sea-level rise, shoreline change, and land-area change. Data source updates and high resolution datasets for the Northern Gulf of Mexico region have improved the CVI assessment for this region. Datasets that can capture local to regional differences in vertical movement and shoreline and land-area change are extremely valuable to these types of assessments in areas where understanding coastal system change in conjunction with storm vulnerability is essential to hazard mitigation.

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