“Living by the beach is the ultimate dream for many Americans,” says WalletHub’s “2020’s Best Beach Towns to Live in,” published on June 17, 2020. And while that may be true, Adriana Zuniga, assistant research scientist in the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona, notes how coastal communities may be severely impacted by climate change in the near future, whether that’s rising sea levels or hurricanes or the inability to acquire homeowners insurance.
Zuniga was one of six research experts—along with faculty from New York University, Texas A&M University, University of San Diego, University of South Alabama, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology—to provide insight into the factors those who wish to live in “beach towns” should consider.
“Coastal areas are being impacted by storm surge and gradually by sea-level rise, which is related to climate change and greenhouse emissions from the burning of fossil fuels,” says Zuniga in the article. “So, people who want to buy a property on the beach should look for higher ground, insurance (if they can find a company that ensures a coastal property nowadays), and some decentralized way to get their water and energy (rainwater harvesting, solar panels). Hurricanes and cyclones will likely become more frequent and severe shortly.”
Zuniga, who joined CAPLA and UArizona’s Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy as an assistant research scientist in 2015, earned her PhD in Arid Lands Resource Sciences and holds a Master of Science in Architecture from the University of Arizona. Her research explores questions related to green infrastructure and urban resilience, environmental justice, water security in cities, groundwater governance and other environmental issues in arid lands. She also teaches courses related to sustainability and the history of the built environment for CAPLA’s Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Built Environments program.