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Song, J., Peng, Z., Zhao, L., & Hsu, C. - H. (2016). Developing a theoretical framework for integrated vulnerability of businesses to sea level rise. Natural Hazards, 84(2), 1219–1239.
Abstract: Sea level rise (SLR), as a likely outcome of climate change, threatens coastal communities through intensified storm surge, strong wind, flooding, and other extreme weather events. While social vulnerability to SLR is receiving overwhelming attention from research communities, studies on the business impacts of SLR are much less developed. In this study, an innovative framework of integrated business vulnerability is developed for environmental hazards (e.g., SLR) and is validated by a case study of Bay County, Florida. First, the model establishes a composite business vulnerability index (BVI) by incorporating business characteristics, infrastructure factors, and other indicators based on existing literature results. Second, it identifies impacted business indicators and how they will change with the projected SLR. To account for climate change uncertainty, floodplains are generated under three SLR levels (0, 0.2, and 0.9 m). Finally, this study uses a GIS-based methodology to combine physical and business vulnerabilities to investigate overall susceptibility and how this changes with SLR. Two important findings are identified. First, business vulnerability to flooding will be escalated substantially by SLR. Considerable amount of areas, businesses, and road networks would be exposed to highest flood risk zones due to SLR. Second, highest flood risk zones do not necessarily intersect with those areas of high BVI. The results can help local governments better allocate financial and manpower resources and assist hazard mitigation teams, urban planners, and city managers in steering business development away from high-risk regions due to SLR.