Dr. Anamaria Bukvic - Coastal Relocation as an Adaptation Strategy to Sea Level Rise

Stephen K. Boss, professor of environmental dynamics and sustainability in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas, launched the Coastlines & People (CoPe) Virtual Symposium Project on September 14, 2022. Boss presented “Far-Field Effects of Sea-Level Rise and Ocean-Climate Processes on the Heartland: An Overview.” This project was cosponsored by the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History in Fulbright College.

The seventh CoPe presentation entitled "Coastal Relocation as an Adaptation Strategy to Sea Level Rise" was delivered on January 11, 2023, by Anamaria Bukvic, assistant professor in the Department of Geography and associate director of the Center for Coastal Studies at Virginia Tech.

Coastal areas along the US East Coast are experiencing profound changes due to accelerated sea level rise, more intense storm surges, and severe rainfall. Such compound flooding can lead to significant direct and indirect impacts on the human system, such as extensive property damage, reduced accessibility to workplaces and health facilities and decreased quality of life. It can also exceed the coping capacity of some coastal residents, prompting them to consider permanent relocation to reduce their flood risk.

Even though there are indications that people are already spontaneously relocating in response to coastal flooding, it is unclear how this movement will unfold over time and where people will decide to move. One of the main reasons behind uncertainties related to anticipated changes in coastal mobility patterns is the complexity of the relocation decision-making process that accounts not only for flooding but also for many other personal and place-based considerations.

This presentation will discuss the impacts of sea level rise and coastal flooding on mobility in the coastal zone, including different types of movement, terminology, financial and policy mechanisms to support relocation, factors driving relocation decision-making, and possible relocation destinations. It will also present results from multiple surveys exploring factors that would prompt people to relocate, from their socioeconomic determinants and flood exposure to concerns with flood impacts and relocation process and preferences for relocation destination.

Bukvic is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and an associate director of the Center for Coastal Studies at Virginia Tech. Her research is focused on coastal adaptation, resilience, vulnerability, security, population displacement, and migration. Bukvic is further interested in whether relocation can serve as a viable adaptation strategy to sea-level rise in coastal communities and what opportunities could emerge from this process. Bukvic uses mixed-methods qualitative and quantitative approaches to study complex emerging issues related to flooding in coastal urban and rural settings. Her current projects are funded by the National Science Foundation and the State of Virginia to study the impacts of chronic and episodic coastal flooding on coping capacity, resilience, and population mobility in coastal communities.

Bukvic is a Fellow of the 2019 Early Career Innovators Program at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and co-organizer of the Rotating Resilience Roundtables events designed to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers and stakeholders on different coastal resilience themes.

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