Shifting Shorelines: a process-based approach to sea level rise resilience in Grays Harbor estuary
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As sea levels rise, estuarine settlements and ecosystems alike must respond to inundation. How can this planetary phenomenon inform place-based resilience? This thesis explores the intersection of historical ecology and infrastructure through Seaport Landing, a shoreline redevelopment project along the lower Chehalis River in Aberdeen, Washington. Through analysis of environmental, social, and economic dynamics of sea level rise adaptation, this thesis finds that engagement with place-specific processes occuring at multiple temporal and spatial scales can further resilience to environmental disturbance. This inquiry produces a process-based design vision that catalyzes assisted habitat migration and economic revitalization in Grays Harbor. Leveraging a single site’s potential to influence ecological trajectories, this proposal reframes Aberdeen’s relationship to the water while reestablishing riparian processes in the face of sea level rise.