Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 25 Issue 03

View Issue TOC
Volume 25, No. 3
Pages 231 - 235

OCEAN POLICY • Vulnerability, Impacts, and Adaptation to Sea Level Rise: Taking an Ecosystem-Based Approach

Keith Alverson
First Paragraph

Last year I traveled to Bangkok, Thailand, for the second Asia Pacific Adaptation Forum, which was called off at the last minute due to the city’s worst flooding in the past 50 years. Bangkok, an urban center of great wealth in a relatively rich country, showed itself to be quite vulnerable to climate impacts. The flooding caused 815 deaths, massive displacements of population, and $45 billion in economic damage, including lasting damage to its automobile and electronics supply chains. Similarly, the landfall of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 2005 caused 1,836 deaths and $81 billion in damage. Thus, while it is certainly true that development can ameliorate some aspects of climate change vulnerability, we surely should not be fooled into thinking that development, sustainable or not, comprises the entire solution to the climate change adaptation challenge. At the very least, developing countries can find, and are finding, new development pathways that avoid some of the maladaptation that has already occurred in the developed world. Additionally, developing and developed countries alike can benefit from improving ecosystem management as an integral part of policies to help reduce vulnerability and increase resilience in the face of climate change.

Citation

Alverson, K. 2012. Vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation to sea level rise: Taking an ecosystem-based approach. Oceanography 25(3):231–235, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2012.101.

References

Alongi, D.M. 2002. Present state and future of the world’s mangrove forests. Environmental Conservation 29(3):331–349, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0376892902000231.

Alverson, K., R. Bradley, and T. Pedersen, eds. 2003. Paleoclimate, Global Change and the Future. International Geosphere Biosphere Programme Book Series, Springer Verlag, 221 pp.

Arburto-Oropeza, O., E. Ezcurra, G. Danemann, V. Valdez, J. Murray, and E. Sala. 2008. Mangroves in the Gulf of California increase fishery yields. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 105:10,456–10,459, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0804601105.

Badola, R., and S.A. Hussain. 2005. Valuing ecosystem functions: An empirical study on the storm protection function of Bhitarkanika mangrove ecosystem, India. Environmental Conservation 32:85–92, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0376892905001967.

Donner, S. 2012. Sea level rise and the ongoing Battle of Tarawa. Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union 93(17):169, https://doi.org/10.1029/2012EO170001.

Gilmann, E.L., J. Ellison, N.C. Duke, and C. Field. 2008. Threats to mangroves from climate change and adaptation options: A review. Aquatic Botany 89(2):237–250, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquabot.2007.12.009.

Kumara, M.P., L.P. Jayatissa, K.W. Krauss, P.H. Phillips, and M. Huxham. 2010. High mangrove density enhances surface accretion, surface elevation change, and tree survival in coastal areas susceptible to sea-level rise. Oecologia 164:545–553.

Maslin, M., and P. Austin. 2012. Uncertainty: Climate models at their limit? Nature 486:183–184, https://doi.org/10.1038/486183a.

Nichols, R. 2011. Planning for the impacts of sea level rise. Oceanography 24(2):144–157, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2011.34.

Reid, H., and S. Huq. 2005. Climate change: Biodiversity and livelihood impacts. Pp. 57–70 in Tropical Forests and Adaptation to Climate Change: In Search of Synergies. C. Robledo, M. Kanninen, and L. Pedroni, eds, Center for International Forestry Research, Borgor Barat, Indonesia.

Rockström, J.W. Steffen, K. Noone, Å. Persson, F.S. Chapin III, E.F. Lambin, T.M. Lenton, M. Scheffer, C. Folke, H.J. Schellnhube, and others. 2009. A safe operating space for humanity. Nature 461:472–475, https://doi.org/10.1038/461472a.

Syvitski, J.P.M., A.J. Kettner, I. Overeem, E.W.H. Hutton, M.T. Hannon, G.R. Brakenridge, J. Day, C. Vörösmarty, Y. Saito, L. Giosan, and R.J. Nicholls. 2009. Sinking deltas due to human activities. Nature Geoscience 2:681–686, https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo629.