Leichenko research on coastal NJ

Economic Vulnerability to Climate Change on the Jersey Shore: Promoting Adaptation, Resilience and Sustainability in Coastal New Jersey

Project Funded by New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium

Project Budget: $120,000

PI: Robin Leichenko

Co-PIs: Rick Lathrop, Lisa Auermuller, Melanie McDermott

The economic costs of climate change impacts and adaptation are of growing concern for coastal communities in New Jersey. While prior studies have estimated the aggregate economic costs of sea-level rise as the result of climate change, there is only limited knowledge of the broader suite of economic vulnerabilities associated with climate change impacts in coastal communities, as well as the costs associated with a range of adaptation options. Within New Jersey, pressing questions for coastal communities include the economic value of the assets and businesses at risk from sea level rise and coastal storms, as well as options for adaptation, and costs associated with various strategies. Answers to these questions are critical to promote sustainable coastal development and to ensure that coastal communities are prepared for sea level rise and other climate-related hazards.

This project will investigate economic vulnerability to climate change in coastal New Jersey, options for adaptation, and mechanisms for incorporating vulnerability and adaptation data into community-level plans. The research will focus the five-county region that encompasses central and southern coastal New Jersey including Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland counties, and will include case studies of two communities in Ocean County. The broader scientific goal of the project is to contribute to understanding of economic vulnerability to climate change in coastal communities and to identify adaptation options that will enhance local economic resilience to climate change. This goal will be achieved via development of community economic vulnerability profiles, stakeholder-based assessment of key climate impacts and adaptation options, and cost-benefit assessment of these options.

User Involvement and Benefits of the Project: The key benefit of the project is to enhance the capacity of coastal communities to prepare for and adapt to climate change. This benefit will be achieved through extension activities including development of decision-support tools, resilience training sessions, and a workshop that will aid coastal decision makers in taking action to promote adaptation. Representatives from municipal, county, and state officials and non-profit environmental and economic development organizations within New Jersey will be involved in the research and extension components of the study. Coastal decision makers at the state, county and municipal levels will work with the project team to identify key economic vulnerabilities and adaptation options for coastal communities across the five county study region. Two coastal communities will be involved in the resilience training sessions.

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