RISING ABOVE: IMPACTS OF COASTAL POLICIES WITH RESPECT TO SEA LEVEL RISE IN GALVESTON BAY, TEXAS
Edwards, Rachel R.
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The Galveston Bay region in Texas is at particular risk of sea level rise (SLR) induced hazards because of its unique geography and geology, including relatively high subsidence rates due to mineral and groundwater extractions. SLR is an exceptionally difficult public policy problem because shorelines have a dynamic nature while typically laws are static. This study examines the effects that four different development strategies could have on landscape structure. Using the Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM), the possible effects of SLR under four development strategy scenarios and three SLR scenarios are examined in four regional subsites that each represents a different natural and built environment. The scenarios are (1) “Armoring Removed” which serves as a control and employs no shoreline protection, (2) Current Armored Shoreline which models the current situation regarding development and armoring, (3) Green Infrastructure which shows what may happen if living shorelines were used instead of armoring, and (4) All Armored (AA) which describes the armoring of the entire site. SLAMM predicted that Developed and Undeveloped Uplands were greatest under the AA scenario and that Marshes and Flats were greatest under the LS scenario. The predictions that armoring would protect uplands and LS would result in more marshes is expected given knowledge of how these strategies work. Action should be taken immediately to develop policies that foster resiliency and avoid the worst outcomes for both human and natural wetland communities in Galveston Bay. This work is part of a larger study on living with sea level rise along the Texas coast.