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TitlePhysical basis of coastal adaptation on tropical small islands
AuthorForbes, D LORCID logo; James, T SORCID logo; Sutherland, M; Nichols, S E
SourceSustainability Science vol. 8, issue 3, 2013 p. 327-344, Open Access logo Open Access
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20120460
PublisherSpringer Nature
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
AreaBermuda; Bahamas; St Croix; Barbades; Trinidad; Hawaii; Guarn; Palau; Tarawa; Funafuti; Aitutaki; Tahiti; Rarontonga; Niue; Fiji; NC; Cocos; Malé; Mahé; Diego Garcia; Mauritius; Réunion
Lat/Long WENS -80.0000 -50.0000 35.0000 10.0000
Lat/Long WENS 30.0000 -140.0000 20.0000 -35.0000
Subjectsenvironmental geology; marine geology; Nature and Environment; coastal environment; coastal studies; coastal erosion; coastal management; climate; climate effects; health hazards; sea level changes; sea level fluctuations; Climate change
Illustrationslocation maps; cross-sections; photographs; tables; plots
ProgramClimate Change Geoscience
Released2013 06 09
AbstractSmall tropical islands are widely recognized as having high exposure and vulnerability to climate change and other natural hazards. Ocean warming and acidification, changing storm patterns and intensity, and accelerated sea-level rise pose challenges that compound the intrinsic vulnerability of small, remote, island communities. Sustainable development requires more robust guidance on the risks associated with natural hazards and climate change, including the potential for islands to keep pace with rising sea levels. Here we review these issues with special attention to their implications for vulnerability, adaptation and disaster risk reduction in various island settings . We present new projections for 2010-2100 sea-level rise (SLR) at 18 island sites, incorporating crustal motion and gravitational fingerprinting, for a range of IPCC (2007) global projections and post-2007 semi-empirical models.. Projected 90-year SLR for the upper limit A1FI scenario with enhanced glacier drawdown ranges from 0.56 m to 1.01 m for islands with a measured range of vertical motion from -0.29 m to +0.10 m. We classify tropical small islands into four broad groups comprising continental fragments, volcanic islands, near-atolls and atolls, and high carbonate islands including raised atolls. Because exposure to coastal forcing and hazards varies with island form, this provides a framework for consideration of vulnerability and adaptation strategies. Nevertheless, appropriate measures to adjust for climate change and to mitigate disaster risk depend on a place-based understanding of island landscapes and processes operating in the coastal biophysical system of individual islands.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
Tropical small islands are widely understood to be highly exposed and vulnerable to climate change and natural hazards. Island communities require more robust understanding of risks, including the potential for low islands to keep pace with rising sea levels. Guidance on sea-level rise (SLR) is provided by new projections for 2010-2100 for a range of emission scenarios at 18 island sites. Based on the 2007 IPCC report and later papers, these local projections incorporate island subsidence or uplift and account for the uneven distribution of SLR. We classify tropical small islands into four groups comprising continental fragments, volcanic islands, atolls, and high carbonate islands. Each of these types has a distinctive suite of exposure to coastal forcing and hazards, suggesting some commonality of vulnerability and risk. Nevertheless, appropriate measures to adjust for climate change depend on a place-based understanding of landscapes and coastal processes on individual islands.

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