Track 1: Effects of Climate Change in Warm Weather Coastal Regions
This study employs a methodology for vulnerability assessment and documentation of historic coastal communities threatened by regular flooding and sea level rise. The methodology combines historical research, field survey, analysis, and mapping through GIS (geographic information system) and 3D terrestrial laser scanning. The University of Florida’s Historic Preservation and Urban Regional Planning Department have helped the City of Cedar Key, Florida, and the Town of Nantucket, Massachusetts, with identifying and mapping historic properties susceptible to flood events. These municipalities have experienced such disasters as Hurricane Hermine (Cedar Key in September 2016) and severe storm surges (Nantucket in January and March 2018). Although maps for broad areas impacted by floods and rising water levels have been developed widely, pre-disaster planning for historic districts requires more detailed information about the impacted buildings and local variables. Integrating different scales and tools, the two projects aimed at developing a digital model to help analyze flood vulnerability, educate the public, inform adaptation strategies, and identify and prioritize sites to investigate and document for historic urban environments where climate change challenges preservation.
The first phases of the projects intended to raise the public awareness of climate change and its potential impact on the historic towns through 3D visualization of recorded floods and NOAA’s sea level rise scenarios in conjunction with public workshops. Rendering virtual water in the 3D representations of the historic urban contexts through laser scanning helped elevate resident awareness. At the same time, the digital documentation enabled the researchers to build the repositories of measurements of the built heritage to inform adaptation strategies and long-term management.
While the data acquisition and community engagement continued, the second phases aimed at GIS mapping to integrate historic structure surveys and vulnerability assessments. The Cedar Key project updated the Florida Master Site File forms from 1986, and the Nantucket project has incorporated historic interior surveys that are ongoing efforts of the University of Florida. The GIS attributes from the surveys were then updated with vulnerability variables such as ground-floor elevations from the sea levels, measured through laser scanning, among others. Identifying historic propertied impacted by flooding, the mapping is being used to inform risk-mitigation measures and plans.
The products from this study are being used by experts, officials, and others to enhance the resiliency of historic urban environments. Also, the online GIS mapping is making the information more accessible and convenient for updating. The approach developed and examined through the two projects will serve as a model to guide documentation and flood vulnerability assessment for other historic coastal communities.