How Can Aging Communities Adapt to Coastal Climate Change? Planning for Both Social and Place Vulnerability
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AbstractCoastal climate change in the form of rising sea levels and more frequent and extreme weather events can threaten community assets, residences, and infrastructure. This presents a particular concern for vulnerable residents - such as seniors aged 75 years and older. Our spatial study combines census area cohort population model projections, community asset mapping, and a municipal policy review with coastal sea rise scenarios to the year 2025-2026. This integrated information provides the basis to assess the vulnerability of our case study communities in Nova Scotia, Canada. Nova Scotia has the oldest population of any Canadian province, the majority of whom reside in coastal communities on the Atlantic, making it an ideal site for such analysis. Through this work we forward a useful decision-making support tool for policy and planning - one that can help coastal communities respond to the particular needs of seniors in rural areas and adapt to impacts of coastal climate change. Throughout we argue that social vulnerability must be considered alongside place vulnerability in the design of climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts. This is not just an issue for coastal communities, but for all communities facing the effects of extreme weather events.