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Open AccessArticle

Pathways to Coastal Resiliency: The Adaptive Gradients Framework

Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003, USA
Department of Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management, American University of Beirut, P.O. Box 11-0236 Beirut, Lebanon
School of Engineering, Computing, and Construction Management, Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI 02809, USA
Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center and Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites-Maryland, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20740, USA
School for the Environment, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, MA 02125, USA
College of Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003, USA
Environmental Studies, Yale-NUS College, Singapore 138610, Singapore
Centre for Resources Management and Environmental Studies, University of West Indies at Cave Hill, Cave Hill BB11000, Barbados
Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2629;
Received: 3 June 2018 / Revised: 18 July 2018 / Accepted: 19 July 2018 / Published: 26 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecological Restoration for Coastal Sustainability)
Current and future climate-related coastal impacts such as catastrophic and repetitive flooding, hurricane intensity, and sea level rise necessitate a new approach to developing and managing coastal infrastructure. Traditional “hard” or “grey” engineering solutions are proving both expensive and inflexible in the face of a rapidly changing coastal environment. Hybrid solutions that incorporate natural, nature-based, structural, and non-structural features may better achieve a broad set of goals such as ecological enhancement, long-term adaptation, and social benefits, but broad consideration and uptake of these approaches has been slow. One barrier to the widespread implementation of hybrid solutions is the lack of a relatively quick but holistic evaluation framework that places these broader environmental and societal goals on equal footing with the more traditional goal of exposure reduction. To respond to this need, the Adaptive Gradients Framework was developed and pilot-tested as a qualitative, flexible, and collaborative process guide for organizations to understand, evaluate, and potentially select more diverse kinds of infrastructural responses. These responses would ideally include natural, nature-based, and regulatory/cultural approaches, as well as hybrid designs combining multiple approaches. It enables rapid expert review of project designs based on eight metrics called “gradients”, which include exposure reduction, cost efficiency, institutional capacity, ecological enhancement, adaptation over time, greenhouse gas reduction, participatory process, and social benefits. The framework was conceptualized and developed in three phases: relevant factors and barriers were collected from practitioners and experts by survey; these factors were ranked by importance and used to develop the initial framework; several case studies were iteratively evaluated using this technique; and the framework was finalized for implementation. The article presents the framework and a pilot test of its application, along with resources that would enable wider application of the framework by practitioners and theorists. View Full-Text
Keywords: green infrastructure; coastal resilience; coastal restoration; social-ecological systems; co-benefits; climate adaptation green infrastructure; coastal resilience; coastal restoration; social-ecological systems; co-benefits; climate adaptation
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MDPI and ACS Style

Hamin, E.M.; Abunnasr, Y.; Roman Dilthey, M.; Judge, P.K.; Kenney, M.A.; Kirshen, P.; Sheahan, T.C.; DeGroot, D.J.; Ryan, R.L.; McAdoo, B.G.; Nurse, L.; Buxton, J.A.; Sutton-Grier, A.E.; Albright, E.A.; Marin, M.A.; Fricke, R. Pathways to Coastal Resiliency: The Adaptive Gradients Framework. Sustainability 2018, 10, 2629.

AMA Style

Hamin EM, Abunnasr Y, Roman Dilthey M, Judge PK, Kenney MA, Kirshen P, Sheahan TC, DeGroot DJ, Ryan RL, McAdoo BG, Nurse L, Buxton JA, Sutton-Grier AE, Albright EA, Marin MA, Fricke R. Pathways to Coastal Resiliency: The Adaptive Gradients Framework. Sustainability. 2018; 10(8):2629.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hamin, Elisabeth M.; Abunnasr, Yaser; Roman Dilthey, Max; Judge, Pamela K.; Kenney, Melissa A.; Kirshen, Paul; Sheahan, Thomas C.; DeGroot, Don J.; Ryan, Robert L.; McAdoo, Brain G.; Nurse, Leonard; Buxton, Jane A.; Sutton-Grier, Ariana E.; Albright, Elizabeth A.; Marin, Marielos A.; Fricke, Rebecca. 2018. "Pathways to Coastal Resiliency: The Adaptive Gradients Framework" Sustainability 10, no. 8: 2629.

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