Theses Master's

Living With Water: A Nature-Based Solutions Toolkit For The Rockaway Peninsula

Laddha, Dhwani

With climate change, natural disasters are exceedingly becoming more frequent and catastrophic. Due to its coastal geography, New York City’s waterfront communities, situated at the confluence of climate change and urbanization, face elevated vulnerability, particularly to coastal storms. Each hurricane, nor'easter, or tropical storm brings with it chances of severe rainfall, flooding, and destructive winds, overwhelming public infrastructure, and obstructing the daily lives of residents.

To increase resilience to these growing threats, the City of New York has developed two ambitious plans: The decennial ‘Comprehensive Waterfront Plan’ has outlined a 10-year vision for creating a more resilient and adaptive waterfront for all New Yorkers. Key goals include expanding climate risk awareness and action, and managing flood risk in coastal communities through promoting climate-resilient design. Building upon these efforts, ‘PlaNYC: Getting Sustainability Done’ strategically responds to the City’s projections for increasing chronic tidal flooding, more frequent coastal storm events, and significant flooding by creating a new leadership structure for coastal flood resilience, implementing a multilayered strategy for flood resilience, and more.

These plans speak to the need for more coastal protection systems as part of the City's multi-layered resiliency strategy. In including both hard structures like revetments and breakwaters, and soft nature-based structures like marshes and riprap, these systems can act as a first line of defense for limiting damage from storm surges, waves, and flooding. Nature-based solutions, in particular, offer a unique means to limit these disruptive dilemmas by providing natural buffers against storm surges, while also providing additional ecosystem benefits. These efforts are crucial for the resilience of New York City in light of an increasingly unpredictable climate.

In collaboration with the New York City Department of City Planning, this capstone explores how the City can employ nature-based solutions to strengthen the resilience of frontline waterfront communities to coastal storms, ensuring both site suitability and community acceptance. Using the Rockaway Peninsula as a case study, this investigation employs a mixed-methods approach: a technical review of nature-based solutions, semi-structured interviews with community organizations and academic climate experts, visual communication assets design, and a visual preference survey with the local community.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Sarmiento, Hugo
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 12, 2024