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Human settlement and regional development in the context of climate change: a spatial analysis of low elevation coastal zones in China


  • Jianli Liu


  • Jiahong Wen


  • Youqin Huang


  • Minqi Shi


  • Qingjie Meng


  • Jinhong Ding


  • Hui Xu



Low elevation coastal zone (LECZ) in China is densely populated and economically developed, which is exposed to increasing risks of hazards related to climate change and sea level rise. To mitigate risks and achieve sustainable development, we need to better understand LECZ. As the first step, in this paper we define the extent of the LECZ in China, and analyze the spatial distribution of LECZ and its population, using a geographic information system software (ArcGIS) to combine elevation models and population data sets. Our findings show that, overall, this zone covers 2.0 % of China’s land area but contains 12.3 % of the total population, which is the largest population living in LECZ in the world. There are large regional variations in the distribution of both LECZ and LECZ population, with half of the LECZ within 30 km from the coastline, and Jiangsu Province having the largest LECZ area and population. The LECZ is also concentrated in three major economic zones in China, which accounts for 54 % of LECZ and three quarters of all LECZ population in China. The impact of future climate change on China’s LECZ is exacerbated by rapid economic and population growth, urbanization and environmental degradation. Coordinating development in coastal and inland China, enhancing adaptive capacity and implementing integrated risk management for LECZ are needed to reduce the risks related to climate change and to achieve sustainable development. Copyright The Author(s) 2015

Suggested Citation

  • Jianli Liu & Jiahong Wen & Youqin Huang & Minqi Shi & Qingjie Meng & Jinhong Ding & Hui Xu, 2015. "Human settlement and regional development in the context of climate change: a spatial analysis of low elevation coastal zones in China," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 20(4), pages 527-546, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:masfgc:v:20:y:2015:i:4:p:527-546
    DOI: 10.1007/s11027-013-9506-7

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jun Wang & Wei Gao & Shiyuan Xu & Lizhong Yu, 2012. "Evaluation of the combined risk of sea level rise, land subsidence, and storm surges on the coastal areas of Shanghai, China," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 115(3), pages 537-558, December.
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