Retreat from flood zones: Simulating land use changes in response to compound flood risk in coastal communities

Yu Han, Xinyue Ye, Kayode Atoba, Pallab Mozumder, Changjie Chen, Bastian van den Bout, Cees van Westen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coastal communities are increasingly vulnerable due to sea level rise and population growth. Managed retreat is commonly recognized as a strategy that yields multifaced benefits in community adaptation. However, limited studies have explored the cumulative effects of sea level rise, population migration, and managed retreat on the community resilience. This study presents a parcel-level land use change model to analysis land-based flood mitigation strategies in Galveston County, Texas. The developed model integrates a Gradient Boosting Decision Tree with a flood risk model and diverse datasets. Our model results reveal the spatial patterns of urban development in Galveston under different relocation policies and the compounding impacts of sea level rise and population growth. Our findings illustrate that elevating the first floors of buildings can significantly mitigate flood risks and associated relocation costs. The private adaptation measure, together with government-led buyout policies, could foster a shift toward more resilient urban development and yield a more affordable relocation strategy. Our findings emphasize the need for a multidisciplinary approach in building resilient coastal communities, particularly in the face of escalating climate risks in local communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104953
StatePublished - Jun 2024
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


  • Gradient boost machine
  • Land use simulation
  • Managed retreat
  • Population growth
  • Sea level rise


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