Anticipating and adapting to the future impacts of climate change on the health, security and welfare of low elevation coastal zone (LECZ) communities in Southeastern USA
Low elevation coastal zones (LECZ) are extensive throughout the southeastern United States. LECZ communities are threatened by inundation from sea level rise, storm surge, wetland degradation, land subsidence, and hydrological flooding. Communication among scientists, stakeholders, policy makers and minority and poor residents must improve. We must predict processes spanning the ecological, physical, social, and health sciences. Communities need to address linkages of (1) human and socioeconomic vulnerabilities; (2) public health and safety; (3) economic concerns; (4) land loss; (5) wetland threats; and (6) coastal inundation. Essential capabilities must include a network to assemble and distribute data and model code to assess risk and its causes, support adaptive management, and improve the resiliency of communities. Better communication of information and understanding among residents and officials is essential. Here we review recent background literature on these matters and offer recommendations for integrating natural and social sciences. We advocate for a cyber-network of scientists, modelers, engineers, educators, and stakeholders from academia, federal state and local agencies, non-governmental organizations, residents, and the private sector. Our vision is to enhance future resilience of LECZ communities by offering approaches to mitigate hazards to human health, safety and welfare and reduce impacts to coastal residents and industries.