Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Ashley, Walker S.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Geography


Hurricanes--United States; Coasts--United States; Coastal zone management--United States; Emergency management--United States; Hazardous geographic environments--United States


This research appraises how residential built-environment growth influences coastal exposure and how this fundamental component of societal vulnerability contributes to tropical cyclone impact and disaster potential. Historical and future demographic projections from a high-resolution, spatial allocation model illustrate that the area within 50 km of the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coastlines has the greatest housing unit density of any physiographic region in the U.S., with residential development in this particular region outpacing non-coastal areas. The growing development footprint and residential densification in a region that has a very high risk to tropical cyclone hazards suggests intensifying disaster potential for U.S. coastal communities. At the local scale, tropical cyclone exposure for six at-risk metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coasts is assessed. All six MSAs evaluated are distinct in their development character, yet all experience statistically significant growth from 1940 through 2100. Using a worst-case scenario framework, the historical and future residential data for the six MSAs are intersected with synthetic hurricane wind swaths generated from contemporary landfalling events. Of the six metropolitan regions examined, the New York City MSA contains the greatest residential built-environment exposure, but Miami is the most rapidly changing MSA and has the greatest potential for hurricane disaster occurrence based on the juxtaposition of climatological risk and exposure. A disaster potential metric illustrates that all six MSAs will experience significant increases in disaster possibility during the 21st century. This analysis facilitates a detailed spatiotemporal assessment of U.S. coastal region vulnerability, providing decision makers with essential information that may be used to evaluate the potential for tropical cyclone disasters, mitigate tropical cyclone hazard impacts, and build community resilience for these and other hazards in the face of environmental and societal change.


Advisors: Walker S. Ashley.||Committee members: David Changnon; Andrew Krmenec; Thomas Pingel.||Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations and maps.


vii, 99 pages




Northern Illinois University

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