Publication Abstracts

Gornitz 1991

Gornitz, V., 1991: Global coastal hazards from future sea level rise. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol., 89, 379-398, doi:10.1016/0031-0182(91)90173-O.

A rise of sea level between 0.3 and 0.9 m by the end of the next century, caused by predicted greenhouse climate warming, would endanger human populations, cities, ports, and wetlands, in low-lying coastal areas, through inundation, erosion and salinization. The consequences of a global sea level rise would be spatially non-uniform because of local or regional vertical crustal movements, differential resistance to erosion, varying wave climates, and changeable longshore currents.

Although many factors can influence sea level, leading to a noisy record, various studies utilizing tide-gauge data find an average global rate of sea level rise of 1-2 mm/yr, over the last 100 years. This trend is part of a general rise over the last 300 years, since the low point of the Little Ice Age. Sea level rise may accelerate 3-8 times over present rates, within the next century.

The permanently inundated coastal zone would extend to a depth equivalent to the vertical rise in sea level. Major river deltas, coastal wetlands and coral islands would be most affected. Episodic flooding by storm waves and surges would penetrate even farther inland. Beach and cliff erosion will be accentuated. Saltwater penetration into coastal aquifers and estuaries could contaminate urban water supplies and affect agricultural production.

Research on relative risks and impacts of sea level rise on specific localities is still at an early stage. Development of a global coastal hazards data base, intended to provide an overview of the relative vulnerabilities of the world's coastlines, is described in this paper. To date, information on seven variables, associated with inundation and erosion hazards, has been compiled for the U.S., and parts of Canada and Mexico. A coastal vulnerability index (CVI) has been designed to flag high risk coastal segments. Preliminary results are presented for the eastern United States, as a test case.

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BibTeX Citation

  author={Gornitz, V.},
  title={Global coastal hazards from future sea level rise},
  journal={Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol.},

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RIS Citation

ID  - go02000x
AU  - Gornitz, V.
PY  - 1991
TI  - Global coastal hazards from future sea level rise
JA  - Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol.
VL  - 89
SP  - 379
EP  - 398
DO  - 10.1016/0031-0182(91)90173-O
ER  -

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