Planning and design of coastal protection for high-risk events with low to moderate or uncertain probabilities are a challenging balance of short- and long-term cost vs
. protection of lives and infrastructure. The pervasive, complex, and accelerating impacts of climate change on coastal areas, including sea-level rise, storm surge and tidal flooding, require full integration of the latest science into strategic plans and engineering designs. While the impacts of changes occurring are global, local effects are highly variable and often greatly exacerbated by geophysical (land subsidence, faulting), oceanographic (ocean circulation, wind patterns) and anthropogenic factors. Reducing carbon emissions is needed to mitigate global warming, but adaptation can accommodate at least near future change impacts. Adaptation should include alternatives that best match region-specific risk, time frame, environmental conditions, and the desired protection. Optimal alternatives are ones that provide protection, accommodate or mimic natural coastal processes, and include landforms such as barrier islands and wetlands. Plans are often for 50 years, but longer-term planning is recommended since risk from climate change will persist for centuries. This paper presents an assessment of impacts of accelerating climate change on the adequacy of coastal protection strategies and explores design measures needed for an optimum degree of protection and risk reduction. Three coastal areas facing similar challenges are discussed: Abu-Qir Bay, Nile River delta plain, Egypt; Lake Borgne, New Orleans, Louisiana delta plain; and the New York City region.
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