Coastal Flood Damage and Adaptation Costs Under 21st Century Sea Level Rise

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, this paper presents estimates of future coastal flood damages and adaptation costs globally. The study, led by the Berlin-based think-tank Global Climate Forum (GCF) presents, for the first time, comprehensive global simulation results on future flood damages to buildings and infrastructure in coastal flood plains. Coastal flood damages are expected to increase significantly during the 21st century due to both rising sea levels and population and economic growth in the coastal zone.

For this impact assessment, coastal flood damage and adaptation costs are evaluated - taking into account a wide range of uncertainties in continental topography data, population data, protection strategies, socio-economic development and sea-level rise. The study finds that without adaptation, in a worst case, almost five percent of the world's population could be exposed to flooding at the start of the next century, and the damage could surpass nine percent of future global GDP each year. Global average storm surge damages could increase from about $10-$40 billion per year today to up to $100,000 billion per year by the end of century. The report identifies Asia and Africa as particularly hard hit because of their rapidly growing coastal mega-cities, such as Shanghai, Manila and Lagos.

GCF is emphasizing the central role of long-term coastal adaptation strategies – and suggest that these strategies also take into account that protecting large parts of the developed coast increases the risk of catastrophic consequences in the case of defense failure.

Publication Date: February 2014

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • Jochen Hinkel
  • Daniel Lincke
  • Athanasios T. Vafeidis
  • Mahé Perrette
  • Robert James Nicholls
  • Richard S. J. Tol
  • Ben Marzeion
  • Xavier Fettweis
  • Cezar Ionescu
  • Anders Levermann

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Resource Types:

  • Assessment


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