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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Coastal Vulnerability Assessment along the North-Eastern Sector of Gozo Island (Malta, Mediterranean Sea)

REgional Models and geo-Hydrological Impacts (REMHI Division), Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici (CMCC), 73100 Lecce, Italy
Department of Chemical and Geological Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, 41125 Modena, Italy
Research and Planning Section, Marine and Storm Water Unit, Public Works Department, FRN 1700 Floriana, Malta
Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Insular Coastal Dynamics (ICoD), University of Malta, MSD 2080 Msida, Malta
Institute of Earth Systems, University of Malta, MSD 2080 Msida, Malta
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(5), 1405;
Received: 2 April 2020 / Revised: 11 May 2020 / Accepted: 12 May 2020 / Published: 15 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Landscapes and Landforms of Terrestrial and Marine Areas)
The coastal landscape of the Maltese Islands is the result of long-term evolution, influenced by tectonics, geomorphological processes, and sea level oscillations. Due to their geological setting, the islands are particularly prone to marine-related and gravity-induced processes, exacerbated by climate change. This study aligns different concepts into a relatively concise and expedient methodology for overall coastal vulnerability assessment, taking the NE sector of Gozo Island as a test case. Geomorphological investigation, integrated with analysis of marine geophysical data, enabled characterization of coastal dynamics, identifying this stretch of coast as being potentially hazardous. The study area features a high economic value derived from tourist and mining activities and natural protected areas, that altogether not only make coastal vulnerability a major concern but also the task of assessing it complex. Before introducing the methodology proposed for overall vulnerability assessment, an in-depth revision of the vulnerability concept is provided. The evaluation was carried out by using a set of key indicators related to local land use, anthropic and natural assets, economic activities, and social issues. Results show that the most critical areas are located east of Marsalforn including Ramla Bay, an important tourist attraction hosting the largest sandy beach in Gozo. The method combines physical exposure and social vulnerability into an overall index. It proves to be cost effective in data management and processing and is suitable for the identification and assessment of overall vulnerability of coastal areas to consequences of climate- and marine-related processes, such as coastal erosion, landslides and sea level rise. View Full-Text
Keywords: coastal morphodynamics; climate change; vulnerability index; Gozo; Malta coastal morphodynamics; climate change; vulnerability index; Gozo; Malta
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Rizzo, A.; Vandelli, V.; Buhagiar, G.; Micallef, A.S.; Soldati, M. Coastal Vulnerability Assessment along the North-Eastern Sector of Gozo Island (Malta, Mediterranean Sea). Water 2020, 12, 1405.

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