Coupling scenarios of urban growth and flood hazards along the Emilia-Romagna coast (Italy)
The extent of coastline urbanization reduces their resilience to flooding, especially in low-lying areas. The study site is the coastline of the Emilia-Romagna region (Italy), historically affected by marine storms and floods. The main aim of this study is to investigate the vulnerability of this coastal area to marine flooding by considering the dynamics of the forcing component (total water level) and the dynamics of the receptor (urban areas). This was done by comparing the output of the three flooding scenarios (10, 100 and > 100 year return periods) to the output of different scenarios of future urban growth up to 2050. Scenario-based marine flooding extents were derived by applying the Cost–Distance tool of ArcGIS® to a high-resolution digital terrain model. Three scenarios of urban growth (similar-to-historic, compact and sprawled) up to 2050 were estimated by applying the cellular automata-based SLEUTH model. The results show that if the urban growth progresses compactly, flood-prone areas will largely increase with respect to similar-to-historic and sprawled growth scenarios. Combining the two methodologies can be useful for identification of flood-prone areas that have a high potential for future urbanization, and is therefore crucial for coastal managers and planners.