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Applying Principles of Uncertainty within Coastal Hazard Assessments to Better Support Coastal Adaptation

National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Hamilton 3251, New Zealand
New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington 6140, New Zealand
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2017, 5(3), 40;
Received: 30 May 2017 / Revised: 14 August 2017 / Accepted: 24 August 2017 / Published: 29 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coastal Sea Levels, Impacts and Adaptation)
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Coastal hazards result from erosion of the shore, or flooding of low-elevation land when storm surges combine with high tides and/or large waves. Future sea-level rise will greatly increase the frequency and depth of coastal flooding and will exacerbate erosion and raise groundwater levels, forcing vulnerable communities to adapt. Communities, local councils and infrastructure operators will need to decide when and how to adapt. The process of decision making using adaptive pathways approaches, is now being applied internationally to plan for adaptation over time by anticipating tipping points in the future when planning objectives are no longer being met. This process requires risk and uncertainty considerations to be transparent in the scenarios used in adaptive planning. We outline a framework for uncertainty identification and management within coastal hazard assessments. The framework provides a logical flow from the land use situation, to the related level of uncertainty as determined by the situation, to which hazard scenarios to model, to the complexity level of hazard modeling required, and to the possible decision type. Traditionally, coastal flood hazard maps show inundated areas only. We present enhanced maps of flooding depth and frequency which clearly show the degree of hazard exposure, where that exposure occurs, and how the exposure changes with sea-level rise, to better inform adaptive planning processes. The new uncertainty framework and mapping techniques can better inform identification of trigger points for adaptation pathways planning and their expected time range, compared to traditional coastal flooding hazard assessments. View Full-Text
Keywords: sea-level rise; coastal hazard assessment; uncertainty; coastal adaptation; climate change sea-level rise; coastal hazard assessment; uncertainty; coastal adaptation; climate change

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Stephens, S.A.; Bell, R.G.; Lawrence, J. Applying Principles of Uncertainty within Coastal Hazard Assessments to Better Support Coastal Adaptation. J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2017, 5, 40.

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