An economic evaluation of adaptation pathways in coastal mega cities: An illustration for Los Angeles

Lars T. de Ruig*, Patrick L. Barnard, W. J.Wouter Botzen, Phyllis Grifman, Juliette Finzi Hart, Hans de Moel, Nick Sadrpour, Jeroen C.J.H. Aerts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Sea level rise and uncertainty in its projections pose a major challenge to flood risk management and adaptation investments in coastal mega cities. This study presents a comparative economic evaluation method for flood adaptation measures, which couples a cost–benefit analysis with the concept of adaptation pathways. Our approach accounts for uncertainty in sea level rise projections by allowing for flexibility of adaptation strategies over time. Our method is illustrated for Los Angeles County which is vulnerable to flooding and sea level rise. Results for different sea level rise scenarios show that applying adaptation pathways can result in higher economic efficiency (up to 10%)than individual adaptation strategies, despite the loss of efficiency at the initial strategy. However, we identified ‘investment tipping points’, after which a transition could decrease the economic efficiencies of a pathway significantly. Overall, we recommend that studies evaluating adaptation strategies should integrate cost–benefit analysis frameworks with adaptation pathways since this allows for better informing decision makers about the robustness and economic desirability of their investment choices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-659
Number of pages13
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume678
Early online date24 Apr 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2019

Funding

We thank the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), United States Geological Survey , and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO; VICI Grant no. 453.14.006 ) for supporting this research. We also greatly acknowledge experts and policy officials in LA County for their valuable feedback during workshops and earlier drafts of the report. This publication has been produced with support from the University of Southern California Sea Grant Program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , U.S. Department of Commerce , under grant number NA14OAR4170089 . The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of NOAA or any of its sub-agencies. The U.S. Government is authorized to reproduce and distribute copies for governmental purposes.

FundersFunder number
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
University of Southern California Sea Grant Program
U.S. Department of CommerceNA14OAR4170089
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
U.S. Geological Survey
University of Southern California Sea Grant, University of Southern California
University of California, Santa Barbara
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek453.14.006

    Keywords

    • Adaptation pathways
    • Climate change
    • Cost-benefit analysis
    • Flood risk analysis
    • Sea level rise
    • Uncertainty

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