Coastal systems and low-lying areas (in IPCC 2014 Report)

Coastal systems are particularly sensitive to three key drivers related to climate change: sea level, ocean temperature, and ocean acidity (very high confidence). Despite the lack of attribution of observed coastal changes, there is a long-term commitment to experience the impacts of sea level rise because of a delay in its response to temperature (high confidence). In contrast, coral bleaching and species ranges can be attributed to ocean temperature change and ocean acidity. For many other coastal changes, the impacts of climate change are difficult to tease apart from human-related drivers (e.g., land use change, coastal development, pollution) (robust evidence, high agreement). (…)

Acidification and warming of coastal waters will continue with significant negative consequences for coastal ecosystems (high confidence). The increase in acidity will be higher in areas where eutrophication or coastal upwellings are an issue. It will have negative impacts for many calcifying organisms (high confidence). Warming and acidification will lead to coral bleaching, mortality, and decreased constructional ability (high confidence), making coral reefs the most vulnerable marine ecosystem with little scope for adaptation. Temperate seagrass and kelp ecosystems will decline with the increased frequency of heat waves and sea temperature extremes as well as through the impact of invasive subtropical species (high confidence). (…)

The relative costs of adaptation vary strongly between and within regions and countries for the 21st century (high confidence). Some low-lying developing countries (e.g., Bangladesh, Vietnam) and small islands are expected to face very high impacts and associated annual damage and adaptation costs of several percentage points of gross domestic product (GDP). Developing countries and small islands within the tropics dependent on coastal tourism will be impacted directly not only by future sea level rise and associated extremes but also by coral bleaching and ocean acidification and associated reductions in tourist arrivals (high confidence).

The analysis and implementation of coastal adaptation toward climate-resilient and sustainable coasts has progressed more significantly in developed countries than in developing countries (high confidence). Given ample adaptation options, more proactive responses can be made and based on technological, policy related, financial, and institutional support. Observed successful adaptation includes major projects (e.g., Thames Estuary, Venice Lagoon, Delta Works) and specific practices in both developed countries (e.g., Netherlands, Australia) and developing countries (e.g., Bangladesh). More countries and communities carry out coastal adaptation measures including those based on integrated coastal zone management, local communities, ecosystems, and disaster reduction, and these measures are mainstreamed into relevant strategies and management plans (high confidence).

Wong P. P., Losada I. J., Gattuso J.-P., Hinkel J., Khattabi A., McInnes K., Saito Y. & Sallenger A., 2014. Coastal systems and low-lying areas. In: Field C. B., Barros V. R., Dokken D. J., Mach K. J., Mastrandrea M. D., Bilir T. E., Chatterjee M., Ebi K. L., Estrada Y. O., Genova R. C., Girma B., Kissel E. S., Levy A. N., MacCracken S., Mastrandrea P. R. & White L. L. (Eds.), Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, pp. 361-409. Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press. Report chapter.

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