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Vulnerability of Caribbean island cemeteries to sea level rise and storm surge.

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Christopher F. Meindl

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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that rising seas by the end of this century will increase the severity of coastal flooding and erosion. The Caribbean region is home to many small islands that are vulnerable to sea level rise and storm surge. Much of the literature examining impacts of sea level rise in the Caribbean focuses on ecosystems, infrastructure, and recreation. Few studies have examined how sea level rise will impact historic and culturally important places. In an effort to address this research gap, geographic information systems and crowd-sourced, georeferenced photographs were used to build a first-of-its-kind database of 542 Caribbean small island cemeteries. Vulnerable cemeteries were then identified based upon elevation, proximity to the ocean, and the coastal profile. Over one-fifth of the cemeteries surveyed are within 100 m of the coast. The highest concentrations of vulnerable cemeteries are on flat islands such as the Cayman Islands. Yet, some mountainous islands such as Saint Martin also have potentially vulnerable cemeteries. These findings suggest that the bereaved, cemetery managers, and managers of coastal areas that have cemeteries may have additional considerations when making long-term decisions about where and how to bury the deceased.


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Taylor & Francis

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.