NCCOS scientists have published a story map summarizing the results from a 2021 household survey of residents in the "Seacoast Region" of New Hampshire and neighboring areas to understand perceptions of coastal risks and adaptation. The Seacoast Region includes 17 coastal townships along the New Hampshire coastline, within the eastern portion of Rockingham County and the southern portion of Strafford County.
Coastal hazards associated with extreme weather events, flooding, and erosion can be devastating to communities. The Seacoast Region of New Hampshire has experienced four catastrophic flooding and storm events within the past 20 years. Flooding related issues are expected to worsen as the intensity and frequency of extreme storm events increase, accompanied by rising sea levels and a growing population. Understanding motivating factors and barriers to adaptation is critical to developing coastal management plans and implementing disaster risk reduction measures.
There are three key takeaways from this study. First, coastal risks are a bigger problem than perceived. While the region’s residents appear well-informed that coastal hazards will increase in the future, they have mixed opinions on the magnitude these hazards present to their communities. Second, neither past damage nor risk perceptions automatically lead to adaptation responses. This means that increasing risk perception alone is not enough to increase preparedness. Finally, over half of the region’s residents have implemented some form of adaptation in the past and a large majority intend to in the future. However, they may adapt in ways that are personally beneficial, but harmful to the environment or larger community. Therefore, adequate institutional support is key to successful outcomes.
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