This thesis examines history and preservation at coastal cultural heritage sites threatened by climate change and explores climate adaptation strategies at two sites on Florida's Atlantic coast. Current climate change models indicate the planet may see as much as 1.1 meters, or four feet, of global average sea level rise by the year 2100, requiring site managers to intervene by using adaptation techniques to improve resilience and guard against the loss of cultural heritage monuments. Understanding the history and importance of these sites to the surrounding communities and their numerous stakeholders is the first step to ensuring these sites remain resilient in the face of a changing climate. This project uses GIS mapping software, publicly available elevation and tide data, and publicly available sea level rise projection tools to evaluate areas vulnerable to sea level rise and the associated effects at Fort Clinch on Amelia Island in northeast Florida and Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse on south Florida's Atlantic coast. These two cultural heritage sites include both protected natural areas as well as examples of built environment that hold cultural significance for a number of stakeholder groups. While these two sites share similarities, climate change adaptation will look different at each. At Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse nature-based adaptation solutions like the current living shoreline project can provide a low-impact way to control erosion and improve resiliency at the site. Because of the coastal dynamics of Amelia Island, however, this type of adaptation project would not be effective at Fort Clinch. In the case of Fort Clinch several natural and anthropogenic factors contribute to an ever-present erosion problem which will worsen as sea levels rise. The changes that occur at these sites and adaptation efforts to respond to those changes will present future historians with opportunities to interpret the changes in the landscape for the public.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
History; Public History
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Watson, Levi, "Florida's Vanishing Heritage: Climate Risk and Adaptation at Florida Heritage Sites" (2023). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 1741.