Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

Document Type



Coastal communities face many threats from their surrounding environment, including floods and severe storms. These threats are exacerbated by climate change and sea level rise, which may cause increased frequency and severity of these events. Despite these hazards, population density along the coasts continues to rise. These areas of dense population and infrastructure are highly vulnerable to extreme weather events. Hurricane Sandy of 2012 was a powerful demonstration of the impact that severe storms can have on coastal populations. In the face of this reality, coastal communities must adapt and become more resilient to environmental changes. In order to assess the relative capacity for resilience of communities in the Northeastern U.S., I created a resilience capacity index following the methods of Baker (2009) and Reams et al. (2012). I analyzed 43 variables for 60 coastal communities in New York and New Jersey. I used a principal component analysis, which resulted in 6 components explaining 72% of the variance. The results were compared to those of Cutter et al. (2003) and Reams et al. (2012). Finally, I performed a bivariate analysis to determine if there was a correlation between post-disaster federal assistance and resilience capacity. The results show that New Jersey has an overall higher resilience capacity than New York, and that within New York, the counties along the Great Lakes had a lower capacity for resilience than the counties on the Atlantic coast of the state. While the results of the study show interesting patterns of resilience capacity, verification methods are needed to validate findings of resilience capacity. Nevertheless, policy-makers can use these results to hone in on areas that need further study.



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Committee Chair

Reams, Margaret A.