Date of Completion

5-5-2012

Embargo Period

5-10-2012

Open Access

Open Access

Abstract

Climate Action Plans (CAP’s) are recent innovations in policy that have been catalyzed by a need to adjust the relationship between human activity and the Earth’s climate system. CAP’s often are composed of methods to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in addition to adaptation strategies. Research indicates, however, that many plans focus on mitigation strategies while adaptation policies related to predicted changes caused by climate change are often overlooked. This thesis presents an integrative framework for locating areas that are in need of adaptation strategies through a GIS based decision support system that visualizes vulnerability. It is operationalized through an empirical study of Dukes County, Massachusetts.

Dukes County is a New England county composed of the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Gosnold. The county has a long history of commercial fishing, but more recently caters to affluent seasonal tourists. With both economic activities heavily reliant upon the ocean as a resource, climate sensitive hazards, such as sea level rise and tropical storms, pose an important risk to the population, built environment, and the natural environment that has made the study area a highly desirable New England tourist destination.

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