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December 15, 2023

Southeast CASC researchers updated a land change model to consider the interactions between urban growth, climate change-induced flooding, and human adaptation decisions.

Sea-level rise increases the risk of flooding in coastal regions, making the ability to pinpoint especially vulnerable areas an important management tool. Typical flood risk assessments do just that, however, it is equally valuable to consider whether communities in those identified areas are equipped to respond to these floods.  

To consider urban development and the adaptive responses of people to climate change-induced flood hazards, researchers supported by the Southeast CASC developed a new model called FUTURES 3.0 (FUTure Urban-Regional Environment Simulation). Unlike traditional risk assessments, this new model considers that people have the agency to act. The researchers tested their model in Charleston, South Carolina, because it is a low-lying region undergoing a lot of development. They projected into 2035 and 2050 under various scenarios of policy intervention and adaptive responses, allowing them to identify scenarios that result in the lowest exposure to future flooding overall, while still identifying areas of high risk and areas where communities have fewer resources to take adaptive measures. The details of this new approach were published in the journal Scientific Reports. 

The Southeast CASC-supported FUTURES 3.0 simulator is open-source and interactive software that can be used in different regions to help assess flood exposure, risk, and human vulnerability. This research can help support planning efforts to anticipate and prepare for the impacts of future floods. 

This work was supported by the Southeast CASC Project, “Improving Scenarios of Future Patterns of Urbanization, Climate Adaptation, and Landscape Change in the Southeast.” 

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