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TitleSea-level rise risks and societal adaptation benefits in low-lying coastal areas
AuthorMagnan, A K; Oppenheimer, M; Garschagen, M; Buchanan, M K; Duvat, V K E; Forbes, D LORCID logo; Ford, J D; Lambert, E; Petzold, J; Renaud, F G; Sebesvari, Z; van de Wal, R S W; Hinkel, J; Pörtner, H O
SourceScientific Reports 12, 10677, 2022 p. 1-22, Open Access logo Open Access
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20200147
PublisherNature Portfolio
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
ProvinceCanada; British Columbia; Alberta; Saskatchewan; Manitoba; Ontario; Quebec; New Brunswick; Nova Scotia; Prince Edward Island; Newfoundland and Labrador; Northwest Territories; Yukon; Nunavut
NTS1; 2; 3; 10; 11; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 20; 21; 22; 23; 24; 25; 26; 27; 28; 29; 30; 31; 32; 33; 34; 35; 36; 37; 38; 39; 40; 41; 42; 43; 44; 45; 46; 47; 48; 49; 52; 53; 54; 55; 56; 57; 58; 59; 62; 63; 64; 65; 66; 67; 68; 69; 72; 73; 74; 75; 76; 77; 78; 79; 82; 83; 84; 85; 86; 87; 88; 89; 92; 93; 94; 95; 96; 97; 98; 99; 102; 103; 104; 105; 106; 107; 114O; 114P; 115; 116; 117; 120; 340; 560
Lat/Long WENS-180.0000 180.0000 90.0000 -90.0000
SubjectsNature and Environment; Society and Culture; sea level changes; coastal environment; coastal studies; climate; adaptation; Climate change adaptation; Climate change; Habitats; Anthropology; cumulative effects
Illustrationslocation maps; schematic representations; tables
ProgramClimate Change Geoscience
Released2022 06 23
Sea level rise (SLR) will increase adaptation needs along low-lying coasts worldwide. Despite centuries of experience with coastal risk, knowledge about the effectiveness and feasibility of societal adaptation on the scale required in a warmer world remains limited. This paper contrasts end-century SLR risks under two warming and two adaptation scenarios, for four coastal settlement archetypes (Urban Atoll Islands, Arctic Communities, Large Tropical Agricultural Deltas, Resource-Rich Cities). We show that adaptation will be substantially beneficial to the continued habitability of most low-lying settlements over this century, at least until the RCP8.5 median SLR level is reached. However, diverse locations worldwide will experience adaptation limits over the course of this century, indicating situations where even ambitious adaptation cannot sufficiently offset a failure to effectively mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
Societal adaptation must be paired with ambitious emissions mitigation to achieve fair and comprehensive solutions to climate change, notably on low-lying coasts. The irreversibility of sea-level rise (SLR) and commitment to additional rise highlight that adaptation will remain a critical requirement indefinitely. How much risk reduction can be achieved through adaptation? We assess adaptation benefits for SLR risks in 2100, contrasting two emission scenarios and four coastal settings: atoll islands, Arctic communities without rapid rebound, large tropical deltas, and resource-rich cities. The study raises three grand challenges. First, more comprehensive SLR and adaptation scenarios are needed. Second, as SLR will accelerate and compounding and cascading effects may lead to tipping points, SLR risk may rise exponentially with possible intermittent jumps. Third, we are committed to SLR beyond 2100, thus ambitious 21st century coastal adaptation may enable post-2100 SLR risk reduction.

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