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Methods for assessing coastal vulnerability to climate change

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Methods for assessing coastal vulnerability to climate change ETC CCA Technical Paper 1/2011 Emiliano Ramieri, Andrew Hartley, Andrea Barbanti, Filipe Duarte Santos, Ana Gomes, Mikael Hilden, Pasi Laihonen,
Methods for assessing coastal vulnerability to climate change ETC CCA Technical Paper 1/2011 Emiliano Ramieri, Andrew Hartley, Andrea Barbanti, Filipe Duarte Santos, Ana Gomes, Mikael Hilden, Pasi Laihonen, Natasha Marinova, Monia Santini European Environment Agency European Topic Centre on Climate Change Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation The European Topic Centre on Climate Change Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation (ETC CCA) is a consortium of European institutes under contract of the European Environment Agency: CMCC Alterra AU-NERI CUNI FFCUL MetOffice SYKE THETIS UFZ UPM Cover photo: Emiliano Molin, Thetis (Italy) winter storm at the Venice littoral of Lido in the Norther Adriatic Sea Layout/editing: Emiliano Ramieri, Thetis (Italy) Legal notice This European Topic Centre on Climate Change Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation (ETC CCA) Technical Paper has not been subject to a European Environment Agency (EEA) member country review. The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the official opinions of the European Environment Agency, the European Commission or other institutions of the European Union. Neither the ETC CCA nor any person or company acting on behalf of the ETC CCA is responsible for the use that may be made of the information contained in this report. Copyright notice ETC CCA, 2011 Reproduction is authorised, provided the source is acknowledged, save where otherwise stated. Information about the European Topic Centre on Climate Change Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation is available on the internet. It can be accessed at Author affiliation: Emiliano Ramieri: Thetis, Italy Andrew Hartley: MetOffice, United Kingdom Andrea Barbanti: Thetis, Italy Filipe Duarte Santos: FFCUL, Portugal Ana Gomes: FFCUL, Portugal Mikael Hilden, Syke, Finland Pasi Laihonen: Syke, Finland Natasha Marinova: Alterra, the Netherlands Monia Santini: CMCC, Italy EEA Project manager: Hans-Martin Füssel, European Environment Agency, Copenhagen, Denmark European Topic Centre on Climate Change Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation c/o Centro Euro-Mediterraneo per i Cambiamenti Climatici (CMCC) Viale Aldo Moro 44 I Bologna - ITALY Phone: Website: 2 Index 1 Introduction Coastal vulnerability to climate change in Europe Coastal Vulnerability to climate and non-climate drivers Conceptual definition of vulnerability to climate change and related concepts Coastal management and adaptation Criteria for evaluating methods for coastal vulnerability assessment Assessment methods Index-based methods Coastal Vulnerability Index CVI Coastal vulnerability index for sea level rise CVI (SLR) Composite Vulnerability Index Multi-scale coastal vulnerability index Indicator-based approach GIS-based Decision Support Systems DESYCO DITTY-DSS Methods based on dynamic computer models Risk Assessment of Coastal Erosion (RACE) DIVA SimCLIM RegIS Regional Impact Simulator Delft3D Advantages and disadvantages of the main approaches Visualisation tools Existing coastal vulnerability tools Important characteristics of a European Coastal Web Atlas Data availability and data needs Sea level rise Land subsidence Projection of other climate change drivers Topographic and bathymetric data Soil characteristics 6.6 Socio-economic data Ecosystem targets Adaptation measures Conclusions Bibliography 1 Introduction A significant and increasing share of the EU population lives in coastal areas. Approximately half the EU population lives 50 km or less from the coast (ESTAT, 2009), with 19% of the EU population (86 million people) living within a 10 km coastal strip (EEA, 2006). It is likely that such numbers will increase in the future. Collectively, this is both placing growing demands on coastal resources as well as increasing people s exposure to coastal hazards (Sterr et al., 2003). Coastal areas are dynamic and complex multi-function systems. A wide number of often conflicting human socio-economic activities occur in these areas. These include urbanisation, tourism and recreational activities, industrial production, energy production and delivering, port activities, shipping, and agriculture. Coastal systems are also characterised by important ecological and natural values; their high habitat and biological diversity is fundamental to sustain coastal processes and provide ecosystem services which are essential also for human well-being (MEA, 2005). Human activities often conflict with the need to preserve natural coastal systems and their ecological processes. In the context of climate change, highly urbanised and infrastructured coastal areas are of particular concern since they can drastically limit and even impede natural adaptive processes, such as inland migration or vertical accretion of wetland systems. Climate change adds additional pressure on European coastal systems (Richards and Nicholls, 2009) by increasing vulnerability on already highly vulnerable areas. This can include the development of new impacts, intensification of already occurring impacts, and synergic and cascading effects. The main impacts of climate change in the coastal zone are expected to be related to sea-level rise and other key meteorological changes. These include changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme whether events such as storms and associated surges (EEA, 2008), although uncertainty on storm surge projections is rather high (see section 2.1). Indeed, approximately 140,000 km 2 of EU land is currently within 1 m of mean sea level. In some countries, such as Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and England, these lowlying coastal areas are densely inhabited (EEA, 2010a). This makes coastal human systems particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise and changes in intensity and frequency of flooding. Besides permanent inundation of low-lying coastal areas due to sea level rise and increased flooding, other expected climate change impacts include increased erosion of beaches and cliffs, degradation of coastal ecosystems (in particular wetland and deltas), and saltwater intrusion in freshwater systems (EEA, 2010a; ETC/ACC, 2010a, ETC/ACC, 2010b). Other less studied impacts may significantly contribute to increase coastal vulnerability in particular at the local or regional level, such as changes in hydrodynamic regimes, impacts on water trophic conditions, changes in biological communities and impacts on commercially important marine species. The assessment of coastal vulnerability to climate change is therefore a key issue at the European level. EEA has addressed the issue in many of its reports, the most recent and relevant being: The changing faces of Europe s coastal areas (EEA, 2006; see in particular chapters 2.7 Coastal dynamics and risk, 3. Living by the sea, and 4.3 Climate change, coastal risks and ICZM), Impacts of Europe s changing climate 2008 indicator-based assessment (EEA, 2008; see in particular chapter 7.4 Coastal areas), and The Europe Environment: State and Outlook Adapting to climate change (EEA, 2010a; see in particular chapter 2.2 Coastal zones). Within this context, EEA has used results from the DIVA model to assess coastal vulnerability to climate change in terms of population affected and economic damages (see an example in Figure 4-13). In order to improve its capacity and expertise in this area, EEA has also analysed methodological aspects of coastal vulnerability assessments. In particular in October 2010, EEA organised a first expert workshop on methods (and data) for assessing current and future coastal vulnerability to climate change to consider complementary or alternative assessment approaches. Results of the workshop were used to finalise a technical paper on existing Methods for assessing current and future coastal vulnerability to climate change drafted by ETC/ACC (2010b). The technical paper European coastal climate change impacts, vulnerability 5 and adaptation: a review of evidence, drafted by ETC/ACC (2010a), complements the conclusions of the workshop. The main conclusions of the October 2010 EEA workshop that are relevant for the key issues and questions to be addressed in this paper can be summarised as follows: Coastal vulnerability assessment initially needs the clear definition of policy and decision making objectives and related questions; Some existing EU Directives and policies provide a good policy framework to define coastal vulnerability objectives and more in general to support coastal adaptation to climate change. These include among others: White Paper on Climate Change Adaptation, Integrated Maritime Policy and related Maritime Spatial Planning, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Water Framework Directive, Floods Directive and Integrated Coastal Zone Management Policy Different tools may be indicated to approach coastal vulnerability assessment at different spatial and temporal scales, in different regions and for different policy purposes; A multi-hazard approach is required in assessing vulnerability of coastal zones to climate changes, thus implying the evaluation of impacts induced by various drivers, such as changes in sea-level, storms, salinity, waves, temperature and sedimentation patterns; Vulnerability assessment should possibly consider also the analysis of current and future adaptation strategies and measures, significantly influencing coastal vulnerability. Specific data are needed to address this component; Data availability is still a key issue; monitoring of key relevant parameters is essential and globally available data (e.g. sea level rise projections or digital elevation models) need to be corrected or detailed to address regional specificities; The coastal Vulnerability Index, and other indices and indicators, can be useful in addressing different policy purposes related to coastal vulnerability and in particular to highlight most critical regions. Based on the previous work done, there is the need to understand what available methods (indicators, index, GIS and model based methods) can be operatively and concretely applied for assessing coastal vulnerability to climate change for the European and Regional Sea context. This technical paper represents a step forward compared to the work previously done and focuses on an operational perspective; thus it does not aim to illustrate a comprehensive literature review on the topic (see on this issue ETC/ACC, 2010b and Mcleod et al., 2010), rather to point out those approaches and methods that may be concretely applied to derive coastal vulnerability maps or other summary information for the European and Regional Sea contexts. A draft version of the technical paper was used as background information for the second EEA s expert workshop on Methods and tools for assessing coastal vulnerability to climate change at the European scale that was held on 8-9 June 2011 in Copenhagen. This workshop discussed and evaluated options for improving assessment of the social, economic and/or ecological risks of climate change for coastal regions throughout Europe to support policy-making at European and/or regional sea scales. Discussion topics included: Availability of computer models, vulnerability/risk indices, and other approaches for assessing important aspects of coastal vulnerability to climate change, their respective data needs and availability, and their applicability in different regions and/or to different coastal types. Usefulness of European-wide datasets that are available, or are expected to become available, for improving coastal vulnerability/risk assessments in Europe. The specific goals of the workshop were: 6 Identify one or more methods to be operatively applied for the assessment of coastal vulnerability to climate change and sea level rise for the European and/or Regional Sea context; Provide recommendations for an appropriate and efficient use of existing methods for mapping and analysing vulnerability and risks of coastal systems to climate change and sea level rise at the European and Regional Sea context; Provide recommendations for the further improvement of available approaches and methods. The discussion was structured on the basis of the following main open questions: Are there any other relevant methods (indicators, indices, GIS and/or model-based ones) to be considered in the technical paper analysis? Is it possible to select a sub-set of proper methods to be used for the assessment of coastal vulnerability to climate change at the European and Regional Sea contexts? Shall a multi-scale/multi-context approach, i.e. different methods for different contexts (from European to sub-regional), be considered as a feasible and concretely applicable approach? What specific recommendations for the appropriate and efficient use of existing methods are most relevant? What recommendations for further improvement of available data and methods/models are most relevant? The feedback received during the workshop was very useful to support the ETC-CCA work on the analysis and evaluation of the applicability of existing methods for coastal vulnerability assessment at the European and Regional Sea levels. The main points of discussion and the conclusions have therefore been integrated in this technical paper. Besides this introduction, the technical paper includes the following further chapters dealing with: key definitions and elements to be considered when addressing the practicalities of coastal vulnerability assessment at the European and Regional Sea level (chapter 2); identification of those methodological characteristics that are considered particularly relevant for assessing coastal vulnerability at the European and Regional Sea contexts (chapter 3); description of selected methods (chapter 4); description of visualisation tools that may be particularly useful in providing scientific-based summary information to coastal practitioners and decision makers as well as being powerful communication tools (chapter 5); data availability and data needs at the European and possibly Regional Sea level (chapter 6); and a final chapter on conclusive remarks (7). 7 2 Coastal vulnerability to climate change in Europe 2.1 Coastal Vulnerability to climate and non-climate drivers Sea level rise is currently one of the most important climate change pressures on the European coasts. It is expected to continue rising and possibly accelerate during this century due to the increase in the average global surface temperature, and contributions from changes in ice sheet dynamics. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report (IPCC AR4) sea level is projected to rise between the present (1980 to 1999) and the end of the 21st century (2090 to 2099) under the six SRES scenarios 1 by between 18 and 59 centimetres. The global mean sea-level rise scenarios are based on thermal expansion and ice melt, excluding possible rapid changes in ice flow and melting from Greenland and Antarctica (Nicholls et al., 2007). However, recently observed accelerated ice flow and melting in some Greenland outlet glaciers and West Antarctic ice streams suggested that contribution from the ice sheets to rates of global sea-level rise could substantially increase (Rahmstorf, 2007; Anderson et al., 2009; Vermeer and Rahmstorf, 2009; Rahmstorf, 2010). Knowledge of these processes is still a developing area of science and while there is limited consensus on the upper bound of global sea-level rise, one prominent study of ice flow rates suggests that the maximum physically plausible limit of sea level rise by 2100 is 2 m (Pfeffer et al, 2008). More plausible, but still accelerated glaciological conditions, could lead to a sea level rise of 0.8 metres by 2100 (Pfeffer et al., 2008). Other recent studies suggest a rise of several meters within the next few centuries (Anderson et al., 2009; Rahmstorf, 2007) 2. What matters most is not the global-mean sea level rise but the locally observed, relative sea level change, which takes into account regional sea level variations and vertical movements of the land (see also chapter 6). Hence a major source of uncertainty is how sea level rise will manifest itself at regional scales (Nicholls and Klein, 2005). There are other climate-related effects in coastal zones besides sea-level rise such as the change in the frequency, intensity and spatial patterns of coastal storms, changes in wave climate both regarding the average direction and intensity of the transported energy and changes in precipitation. This will be especially relevant for low-lying coastal areas prone to coastal, river and/or pluvial flooding, but confidence in model projections of future scenarios of climate variables other than sea-level rise is rather low and is only beginning to improve. Other climatic changes that could have significant consequences for coastal zones, such as changes in wind direction and intensity, remain highly uncertain. The coastline is constantly changing through the action of several factors such as wave height and direction, wind speed, water depth, sediment supply, removal and transport along the coast, strength of tides, rates of relative sea level change, as well as rainfall and the frequency and intensity of extreme meteorological and climate events, including storm surges. Furthermore, coastal ecosystems are also particularly sensitive to the increase in sea surface temperature, ocean acidification, salt water intrusion, rising water tables and to altered runoff patterns (ETC-ACC, 2010a). Climate change has an influence over all these drivers and therefore introduces further vulnerability to coastal zone systems, as expressed by the following examples concerning the Baltic and the Black Seas. In cold-temperate seas like the Baltic Sea, increasing seawater temperature can be especially important as this could affect the period of sea ice coverage, reducing coasts ability to withstand wave impacts and 1 According to the IPCC AR4, in the considered period ( ; ) sea level is projected to rise by m for the SRES B1 scenario, by m for the SRES B2 scenario, by m for the SRES A1B scenario, by m for the SRES A1T scenario, by m for the SERS A2 scenario, and by m for the SRES A1FI scenario. 2 It should be also considered that available sea level rise projections can be derived through different approaches, including: physical models (e.g. the IPCC AR4 approach), semi-empirical models (e.g. Rahmstorf, 2007; Vermeer and Rahmstorf, 2009), or analysis of past large-scale events and/or physical constraints (e.g. Rohling et al., 2008; 2009). 8 erosion processes (Sterr et al., 2003). Due to the salinity stratification of the Baltic Sea the rise of the sea level and possible changes in weather patterns can have many different types of effects, including changes in the fisheries (Hagen and Feistel, 2005). Thus sea level rise in the Baltic Sea is not just about higher water levels on the coast; it is a complex phenomenon with many possible effects. The Black Sea is a highly anoxic body (lacking in oxygen) and restricted flushing makes it vulnerable to land-based disturbances such as agricultural runoff, urbanization, and pollution (McCracken et al., 2008; Stanev, 2011). Changes in sealevel, sea water ph and the extent of oxygen deficiency, together with other factors, can create negative synergistic effects to which Black Sea ecosystems may have little resistance (ETC-ACC, 2010a). Coastal vulnerability assessments to climate change are mainly centred on absolute or preferably relative sea-level rise and less focused on other climate change dimensions (in particular because of the significant uncertainty) and even less on non-climatic environmental and socio-economic changes (Nicholls et al., 2008). Indeed, coastal systems suffer great pressures from direct and indirect effects resulting from several human-induced drivers linked to population, economic growth, and related land-use changes. Thus, in general, coastal vulnerabi
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