Climate Change in the Coastal Zone

The threats of climate change and sea level rise provide additional challenges to coastal areas that are already under immense pressure. Human activities are often concentrated in coastal regions, and 200 million out of Europe's 680 million people live within 50 kilometres from the coast. Coastal zones are often home to fragile ecosystems; uncontrolled urbanisation, development and tourism-related activities can lead to rapid degradation of these coastal habitats and resources.

With climate change, new challenges are added to the coastal area. Sea level rise will take place, rainfall patterns in the upper catchments will change and the ecosystems will need space for dynamic changes. Mitigation policies will press for further development of on- and off-shore energy production units, which again implies an efficient planning regime. Adaptation policies are heavily dependent on access to timely and robust data and knowledge on impacts and adaptation options. A planning framework that integrates these aspects must be based on reflections on relevant planning themes, data access and integrating institutional platforms.

The Climate Change in the Coastal Zone Work Package developed a web-based decision-support system for Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in a climate change perspective.

An Indicator System was also implemented in the decision-support system, permitting users to assess and visualise responses to the impacts of climate change in the coastal zone. Use of the Indicator System was intended to reinforce the role of ICZM in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

The decision-support system was developed based on a conceptual model, an indicator approach and an innovative architecture. The overall aim of the system was to offer specific tools to policy makers and planners, assisting them in making better decisions on mitigation and adaptation measures. 

Copyright 2010, BLAST - Bringing Land and Sea Together.