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Urban infrastructure development and social vulnerability to extreme climate events in Miami-Dade County, Florida

Authors: Kyle Pecsok*, Clark University, Rinku Roy Chowdhury, Clark University, John Rogan, Clark University
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Urban Geography
Keywords: Climate Resilience, Flooding, Infrastructure, Vulnerability, Florida, Social-Ecological-Technological Framework
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 4:35 PM
Room: Virtual Track 3
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Coastal cities in the Anthropocene are increasingly vulnerable to climate change and extreme climate events, including sea level rise (SLR), increased precipitation and flooding. However, cities and urban neighborhoods also experience important differences in this vulnerability, owing to varying social, environmental and infrastructure conditions. Social vulnerability to environmental hazards is contingent on multiple factors such as wealth, race, age, and more. Environmental conditions such as distance to shoreline, hydrography, and topography also influence flood risk. Along with increasing attention to cities as linked social-ecological systems, an important body of work in urban resilience is focusing on how infrastructure and the built environment, such as roads and canals, have shaped flood risk and climate resilience in cities. In recent years, some of this work has increasingly informed a shift in climate adaptation and resilience planning from fail-safe infrastructure (designed to prevent failure), to systems that are “safe-to-fail” (designed to adapt to natural hazards).

This project conducted a spatial analysis of the patterns of development of road and canal/drainage infrastructure in Miami-Dade County (MDC), Florida, a location highly exposed to SLR and coastal flooding, that is engaged in the process of climate resilience planning. The study analyzed datasets on predicted SLR, road and canal infrastructure, and census-derived socioeconomic characteristics, in order to trace the spatial relationship of infrastructure to predicted flood zones and social vulnerability. As climate resilience becomes an increasing concern in coastal cities, this work may contribute to discussions of fail-safe vs. “safe-to-fail” pathways for climate-resilient infrastructure development.

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