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Plausible responses to the threat of rapid sea-level rise for the Thames Estuary


  • Kate G. Lonsdale
  • Thomas E. Downing
  • Robert J. Nicholls
  • Dennis Parker
  • Athanasios T. Vafeidis
  • Richard Dawson
  • Jim Hall


This paper considers the perceptions and responses of selected stakeholders to a scenarion of rapid rise in sea-level due to the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, which could produce a global rise in sea-level of 5 to 6 metres. Through a process of dialogue involving one-to one interviews and a one-day policy exercise, we addressed influences on decision-making when information is uncertain and our ability to plan, prepare for and implement effective ways of coping with this extreme scenario. Through these interactions we hoped to uncover plausible responses to the scenario and identify potential weaknesses in our current flood management approaches to dealing with such an occurrence. By undertaking this exploratory exercise we hoped to find out whether this was a feasible way to deal with such a low probability but high consequence scenario. It was the process of finding a solution that interested us rather than the technical merits of one solution over another. We were not intending to produce definitive set of recommendations on how to respond but to gain insights into the process of making a decision, specifically what influences it and what assumptions are made.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:sgc:wpaper:77

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.

    More about this item


    Sea level rise; London;

    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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