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Physical Geology Chapter 14 Internet Exercise

Human settlement patterns and human nature have had an affinity for coastal zones for many millennia. People are relocating to coastal regions in greater numbers and more rapidly than at any other historic time.

At the same time, global climate is changing and sea-level is rising, subjecting a large proportion of the world human population and the infrastructure that supports it to adverse affects of coastal living due to extreme tides, natural and human-accelerated coastal erosion processes, and episodic storm surf and storm surges.

This exercise will provide you with an overview of coastal vulnerability due to future sea-level rise as determined by the United States Geological Survey Marine and Coastal Geology Program.

Once at the home page of the USGS Marine and Coastal Geology Program, locate the"Erosion" link under the"Topics of Study" box on the right hand side of the page. Follow this link, then scroll down the page to"National Assessment of Coastal Vulnerability To Sea-Level Rise".

Click on this link to become acquainted with the basics of this study. Under the"Products" heading, choose either Atlantic Coast, Pacific Coast, or Gulf of Mexico to learn more about the vulnerability of these regions to sea-level rise. Use information contained in these reports to answer the questions below:

1. These reports rank coastal areas according to a Coastal Vulnerability Index (CVI). What is the CVI and what risk factors contribute to coastal vulnerability to sea-level rise?

2. How is the CVI calculated for a particular location?

3. For the region you chose, create a list of those features that are particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise.

4. Examine Figure 1 (Map of the Coastal Vulnerability Index (CVI) for the region you chose. How does the color coded CVI along the coast relate to geological conditions? What areas appear to show the greatest vulnerability to sea-level rise? What factors contribute to this distribution?

5. Are the results consistent with your expectations for this study?

6. What can be learned from examining the map of CVI? Does this map have value to the average coastal dweller? What is that value? Can you think of ways to enhance the value of these maps for coastal residents?

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