Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School


First Advisor

Darrell Napton


City of Cape Coral, Coastal Vulnerability Index, Principal Component Analysis, Sea Level Rise, Sea Level Rise Calculator tool


Sea level rise, a consequence of global climate change, has been affecting the U.S. coasts with flooding and exacerbated storm surges. Florida is highly vulnerable because it has low-lying topography and coastlines on both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The City of Cape Coral, Southwest Florida, is known as a ‘waterfront wonderland’ with 400 miles of canals that provide waterfront property to the residents. Most of the canals are navigable, and many have access to the Gulf of Mexico. The city is vulnerable to sea level rise because of its canals, site between the Matlacha Pass and the Caloosahatchee River, and much development in hazardous areas. In this research, I estimated the inundated area with Sea Level Rise Calculator tool, for three postulated sea level rise scenarios, by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), on the City of Cape Coral from 2020 to 2050 and created a Coastal Vulnerability Index (CoVI) using Principal Component Analysis (PCA). PCA reduced 25 variables to six factors that explained 78% of the variance in the data. The study revealed that the whole city has a medium to high vulnerability to sea level rise induced coastal flooding. Projected flooding showed the vulnerable areas for future flooding, whereas CoVI identified the vulnerable populations and their locations in the city. One important finding is that the wealthy people in Cape Coral are more vulnerable than the poor people. My research has significant implications in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. It can act as a guideline for the city for disaster management and can be updated with the most recent data.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Sea level -- Florida -- Cape Coral -- Forecasting.
Sea level -- Environmental aspects -- Florida -- Cape Coral -- Forecasting.
Coastal zone management -- Florida -- Cape Coral.
Coast changes -- Florida -- Cape Coral -- Forecasting.
Climatic changes -- Florida -- Cape Coral -- Forecasting.
Cape Coral (Fla.) -- Environmental conditions -- Forecasting.
Climatic changes -- Risk assessment -- Florida -- Cape Coral -- Forecasting.
Flood forecasting -- Florida -- Cape Coral.
Coastal ecology -- Florida -- Cape Coral.

Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright