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Coastal vulnerability assessment of the Northern Gulf of Mexico to sea-level rise and coastal change

January 1, 2010

A coastal vulnerability index (CVI) was used to map the relative vulnerability of the coast to future sea-level rise along the Northern Gulf of Mexico from Galveston, TX, to Panama City, FL. The CVI ranks the following in terms of their physical contribution to sea-level rise-related coastal change: geomorphology, regional coastal slope, rate of relative sea-level rise, historical shoreline change rate, mean tidal range, and mean significant wave height. The rankings for each variable are combined and an index value is calculated for 1-kilometer grid cells along the coast. The CVI highlights those regions where the physical effects of sea-level rise might be the greatest. The CVI assessment presented here builds on an earlier assessment conducted for the Gulf of Mexico. Recent higher resolution shoreline change, land loss, elevation, and subsidence data provide the foundation for a better assessment for the Northern Gulf of Mexico. The areas along the Northern Gulf of Mexico that are likely to be most vulnerable to sea-level rise are parts of the Louisiana Chenier Plain, Teche-Vermillion Basin, and the Mississippi barrier islands, as well as most of the Terrebonne and Barataria Bay region and the Chandeleur Islands. These very high vulnerability areas have the highest rates of relative sea-level rise and the highest rates of shoreline change or land area loss. The information provided by coastal vulnerability assessments can be used in long-term coastal management and policy decision making.

Publication Year 2010
Title Coastal vulnerability assessment of the Northern Gulf of Mexico to sea-level rise and coastal change
DOI 10.3133/ofr20101146
Authors E.A. Pendleton, J.A. Barras, S.J. Williams, D. C. Twichell
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2010-1146
Index ID ofr20101146
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center