Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Computing, Engineering & Construction

Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. School of Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Cigdem Akan

Second Advisor

Dr. Raphael Crowley

Third Advisor

Dr. Angela Schedel

Department Chair

Dr. Osama Jadaan


Coastal and riverine communities, with anthropogenic congestion and natural and economic resources, are vulnerable to climate change impacts including rising sea levels and increasing severity and frequency of storms. Coastal habitats are being increasingly recognized as natural infrastructure that provides resiliency against these stressors. However, few studies have analyzed coastal vulnerability at landscape scale with finely resolved spatial data that account for habitats and demographics. The purpose of this study is to map the coastal vulnerability of the St. Johns River and adjacent Northeastern Florida Atlantic shoreline within the St. Johns River Water Management District. Unique to this study is that natural habitats, different sea level rise scenarios, and human demographics are considered. Specifically, the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST) 3.9.0 coastal vulnerability model with seven metrics (geomorphology, relief, natural habitats, sea level change, wave exposure, wind exposure, and surge potential) was used to create a coastal exposure index for shore points. Results showed vulnerability to erosion and flooding. Using three sea level rise scenarios (current, 2050 Intermediate-High, and 2100 Intermediate-High), it was found that (1) the coastal exposure indexes and habitat role values were spatially correlated; (2) rising sea levels increased the coastal exposure index and the role of habitats in providing protection; (3) vulnerability of population density and population below poverty density increased with higher sea levels and without habitats present; and (4) low vulnerability areas had high concentrations of mangroves. These results could be used to help prioritize which habitat types and where habitat protection and/or restoration is most needed for protecting shorelines and disadvantaged people. This type of coastal vulnerability study could aid resiliency planning efforts in Northeastern Florida and could be expanded upon for other socioeconomic, infrastructure, or ecosystem queries.