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Adaptation to Five Metres of Sea Level Rise

Author

Listed:
  • Richard S. J. Tol
  • Maria Bohn
  • Thomas E. Downing
  • Marie-Laure Guillerminet
  • Eva Hizsnyik
  • Roger Kasperson
  • Kate Lonsdale
  • Claire Mays
  • Robert J. Nicholls
  • Alexander A. Olsthoorn
  • Gabriele Pfeifle
  • Marc Poumadere
  • Ferenc L. Toth
  • Athanasios T. Vafeidis
  • Peter E. van der Werff
  • I. Hakan Yetkiner

Abstract

There is an unknown but probably small probability that the West-Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) will collapse because of anthropogenic climate change. A WAIS collapse could cause a 5--6 metre global sea level rise within centuries. In three case studies, we investigate the response of society to the most extreme yet not implausible scenario, a five-metre sea level rise within a century, starting in 2030. The case studies combine a series of interviews with experts and stakeholders with a gaming workshop. In the Rhone delta, the most likely option would be retreat, with economic losses, perhaps social losses, and maybe ecological gains. In the Thames estuary, the probable outcome is less clear, but would probably be a mix of protection, accommodation and retreat, with parts of the city centre turned into a Venice of London. A massive downstream barrier is an alternative response. In the Rhine delta (the Netherlands), the initial response would be protection, followed by retreat from the economically less important parts of the country and, probably, from Amsterdam--Rotterdam metropolitan region as well. These impacts are large compared to other climate change impacts, but probably small compared to the impacts of the same scenario in other parts of the world. This suggests that the possibility of a anthropogenic-climate-change-induced WAIS collapse would strengthen the case for greenhouse gas emission reduction.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard S. J. Tol & Maria Bohn & Thomas E. Downing & Marie-Laure Guillerminet & Eva Hizsnyik & Roger Kasperson & Kate Lonsdale & Claire Mays & Robert J. Nicholls & Alexander A. Olsthoorn & Gabriele Pf, 2006. "Adaptation to Five Metres of Sea Level Rise," Journal of Risk Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(5), pages 467-482, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jriskr:v:9:y:2006:i:5:p:467-482
    DOI: 10.1080/13669870600717632
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert J. Nicholls & Richard S.J. Tol & Athanasios T. Vafeidis, 2005. "Global Estimates Of The Impact Of A Collapse Of The West Antarctic Ice Sheet: An Application Of Fund," Working Papers FNU-78, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Jul 2005.
    2. Richard Tol, 2007. "The double trade-off between adaptation and mitigation for sea level rise: an application of FUND," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 12(5), pages 741-753, June.
    3. Alexander A. Olsthoorn & Peter E. van der Werff & Laurens M. Bouwer & Dave Huitema, 2005. "Neo-Atlantis: Dutch Responses to Five Meter Sea Level Rise," Working Papers FNU-75, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised May 2005.
    4. Kate G. Lonsdale & Thomas E. Downing & Robert J. Nicholls & Dennis Parker & Athanasios T. Vafeidis & Richard Dawson & Jim Hall, 2005. "Plausible responses to the threat of rapid sea-level rise for the Thames Estuary," Working Papers FNU-77, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised May 2005.
    5. Marie-Laure Guillerminet & Richard S.J. Tol, 2005. "Decision Making Under Catastrophic Risk And Learning: The Case Of The Possible Collapse Of The West Antarctic Ice Sheet," Working Papers FNU-79, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Jun 2005.
    6. Ferenc L. Toth & Eva Hizsnyik, 2005. "Managing The Inconceivable: Participatory Assessments Of Impacts And Responses To Extreme Climate Change," Working Papers FNU-74, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised May 2005.
    7. Roger E. Kasperson & Maria T. Bohn & Clark L. Goble, 2005. "Assessing The Risks Of A Future Rapid Large Sea Level Rise: A Review," Working Papers FNU-73, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised May 2005.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kahn, Matthew E., 2015. "Climate Change Adaptation: Lessons from Urban Economics," Strategic Behavior and the Environment, now publishers, vol. 5(1), pages 1-30, June.
    2. Kousky, Carolyn & Rostapshova, Olga & Toman, Michael & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2009. "Responding to Threats of Climate Change Mega-Catastrophes," Discussion Papers dp-09-45, Resources For the Future.
    3. Martina Linnenluecke & Andrew Griffiths, 2012. "Assessing organizational resilience to climate and weather extremes: complexities and methodological pathways," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 113(3), pages 933-947, August.
    4. Omann, Ines & Stocker, Andrea & J├Ąger, Jill, 2009. "Climate change as a threat to biodiversity: An application of the DPSIR approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 24-31, November.

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