A coastal vulnerability index (CVI) was used to map the relative vulnerability of the coast to future sea-level rise within Gulf Islands National Seashore (GUIS) in Mississippi and Florida. The CVI ranks the following in terms of their physical contribution to sea-level rise-related coastal change: geomorphology, regional coastal slope, rate of relative sea-level rise, shoreline change rates, mean tidal range and mean wave height. The rankings for each variable were combined and an index value calculated for 1-minute grid cells covering the park. The CVI highlights those regions where the physical effects of sea-level rise might be the greatest. This approach combines the coastal system's susceptibility to change with its natural ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions, yielding a quantitative, although relative, measure of the park's natural vulnerability to the effects of sea-level rise. The Gulf Islands in Mississippi and Florida consist of stable and washover dominated portions of barrier beach backed by wetland and marsh. The areas likely to be most vulnerable to sea-level rise are those with the highest occurrence of overwash, the highest rates of shoreline change, the gentlest regional coastal slope, and the highest rates of relative sea-level rise. The CVI provides an objective technique for evaluation and long-term planning by scientists and park managers.
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Coastal vulnerability assessment of Gulf Islands National Seashore (GUIS) to sea-level rise