Delft, The Netherlands, 11 Oct 2021

Coastal Futures: IHE Delft launches interactive tool showing how climate change could affect coastal areas

How will the coastal areas of the world be affected by global warming? This is an important question for coastal communities and coastal scientists, engineers, planners, managers and policy makers. A new online viewer provides a quick overview of projections for sea level rise, coastal flooding, shoreline retreat and extreme waves by combining several published state-of-the-art data sets on coastal climatic impact-drivers.

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) AR6 WGI assessment states with high confidence that all coastal climatic-impact drivers that were considered in the AR6 – including relative sea level rise, coastal flooding and coastal erosion - will increase by mid-century in almost all regions of the world. This means that adaptation is urgently needed to reduce climate change induced risks for coastal communities, properties and other assets. To decide what to do where and when, policy makers need reliable information underpinned by science.

Global data sets of coastal climatic-impact drivers, such as those assessed in IPCC AR6 WGI, indicate global and regional hotspots of potential impacts and help guide local-scale impact and risk assessments that are needed for informed decision making. However, because these global data sets are produced by different institutes and universities around the world and presented in many different studies, it can be difficult to get an overview. The Coastal Futures (CoFu) viewer, released today, provides a fast and easy way to compare and contrast different projections with just a few clicks.

For example, an energy provider interested in the flooding risk faced by its powerplants located in coastal areas by mid-century could use the viewer to access projections on extreme sea levels and coastal flooding. A development bank could use the viewer to prioritize investments aiming to mitigate consequences of climate change in coastal areas.  

An IHE Delft team led by Professor Roshanka Ranasinghe, an expert on climate change impacts and coastal risk and a Coordinating Lead Author in IPCC AR6 WGI, created the viewer in response to the many requests for overview projections received from people around the world.

“Free, centralized availability of multiple coastal climatic impact-driver projections for different time periods and climate scenarios can benefit many different people interested in coastal safety, coastal developments and climate adaptation,” he said. “The viewer aims to make the best and most up-to-date scientific knowledge easily accessible to everyone.”

About IHE Delft Institute for Water Education

IHE Delft is the largest international graduate water education facility in the world and is based in Delft, the Netherlands. Since 1957 the Institute has provided water education and training to professionals from over 160 countries, the vast majority from Africa, Asia and Latin America. Also, numerous research and institutional strengthening projects are carried out in partnership to strengthen capacity in the water sector worldwide. Through our overarching work on capacity development, IHE Delft aims to make a tangible contribution to achieving all Sustainable Development Goals in which water is key.

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