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Identifying priorities for adaptation planning : an integrated vulnerability assessment for the Town of Oxford and Talbot County, Maryland
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Identifying priorities for adaptation planning : an integrated vulnerability assessment for the Town of Oxford and Talbot County, Maryland
  • Description:
    The ecology of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed is deeply intertwined in the history, culture, and economy of the communities in this region, and provides people with valuable ecosystem services. Due to the connectivity between communities and the environment, the risks associated with flooding, coastal storms, erosion, and sea level rise are heightened. Understanding the vulnerabilities of communities along the Bay to climate and coastal hazard impacts requires integrated science techniques and methods. This project aims to provide coastal communities with the information needed to identify and prioritize areas that have the potential to be negatively impacted by climate-related hazards such as storm surge and sea level rise by designing and implementing a framework for an integrated socialenvironmental vulnerability assessment. A variety of ecological, social, economic and cultural indicators are significant when considering the potential impacts of sea level rise and other climate-related shifts (e.g., changes in magnitude or periodicity of precipitation) on coastal communities. Using existing indicators of vulnerability, as well as novel approaches to indicator development and application for coastal communities, a set of appropriate metrics were identified and/or developed for the assessment. Both environmental and social vulnerability were examined using data collected on population demographics, economic characteristics, distribution of natural resources, and characteristics of commercial and residential structures. These vulnerabilities are then investigated alongside various flood hazard risks, including stormwater flooding, storm surge, and sea level rise. This work builds upon a range of NOAA methods and products. Further, the project seeks to advance analytic techniques for integrating measures of vulnerability with measures of risk in a spatial assessment. This study was conducted for the Town of Oxford and Talbot County, Maryland. Talbot County is located on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay and its climate is significantly influenced by both the Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The Town of Oxford, located in the Lower Choptank Watershed of the Chesapeake Bay, is intersected by Town Creek. Because the Town is low-lying, it is frequently exposed to flooding events. With changing climate conditions like sea level rise and increased frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation events, Oxford's flooding issues are expected to worsen. While the initial vulnerability assessment tool development and data collection is focused on a single community of the Chesapeake Bay, the methodological approach is being tailored for maximum applicability across coastal communities in all regions. [doi:10.7289/V5/TM-NOS-NCCOS-212 (http://dx.doi.org/10.7289/V5/TM-NOS-NCCOS-212)]
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