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Impacts of climate change in coastal systems in Europe. PESETA-Coastal Systems study

  • Authors: Julie A. Richards and Robert J. Nicholls
  • EUR Number: 24130 EN
  • Publication date: 12/2009


Results of the physical impacts and adaptation cost assessment of sea-level rise for the European Union are presented for the A2 and B2 SRES socio-economic storylines and for a range of plausible sea-level rise scenarios, using data from the ECHAM4 and HADCM3 Global Climate Models (GCMs) models. In addition, to better understand the sensitivity of the results to the magnitude of sea-level rise, the full IPCC (2001) range of sea level rise predictions and scenarios of no climate change have also been modelled. These results are all derived using the global Dynamic Interactive Vulnerability Assessment (DIVA) tool for assessing regional to global coastal impacts and adaptation.
Both the physical and economic impacts of sea-level rise increase with time for both the A2 and B2 storylines, especially under scenarios of high sea-level rise. Without adaptation, significant impacts and therefore damages are apparent. Significant populations are threatened with displacement by flooding and coastal erosion. An exploratory adaptation analysis using standard protection measures of dike construction and beach nourishment, where benefit-cost analysis suggests this is the optimum response, reduces these impacts significantly. While adaptation in Europe is likely to be much more diverse than these two smple options, these results demonstrate the significant benefits of protection, and more generally suggest that widespread adaptation to sustain human coastal activities would be prudent. Moreover, under these protection assumptions, coastal ecosystems are significantly reduced in area, especially under the high sea-level rise scenario and climate change raises significant challenges for wider coastal management in Europe, even if human uses in the coastal zone are protected.

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