Assessing potential impacts of sea level rise on public health and vulnerable populations in Southeast Florida and providing a framework to improve outcomes

Frederick Bloetscher, Colin Polsky, Keren Bolter, Diana Mitsova, Kristin Palbicke Garces, Roderick King, Isabel Cosio Carballo, Karen Hamilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

In recent years, ongoing efforts by a multitude of universities, local governments, federal agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been focused on sea-level rise (SLR) adaptation in Florida. However, within these efforts, there has been very little attention given to the potential impacts of sea-level rise on human health. The intent of this project is to identify populations in Southeast Florida that are most vulnerable to sea-level rise from a topographic perspective, determine how vulnerable these population are from a socio-economic perspective, identify potential health impacts, develop adaptation strategies designed to assist these communities, and produce an outreach effort that can be shared with other coastal communities. The location of socially-vulnerable and health-vulnerable populations are correlated, but at present they are not generally in the geographically-vulnerable areas. Projections indicate that they will become at risk in the future but the lack of data on emerging diseases makes public health assessments difficult. We propose a redefinition of "who is vulnerable?" to include health indicators and hard infrastructure solutions for flood and property protection. These tools can be used to help protect water resources from the impacts of climate change, which would, in turn, protect public health via drinking water supplies, and efforts to address social issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number315
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume8
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Groundwater
  • Sea level rise
  • Vector- and waterborne diseases
  • Vulnerable populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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