The ability of societies to adapt to twenty-first-century sea-level rise

Jochen Hinkel*, Jeroen C.J.H. Aerts, Sally Brown, Jose A. Jiménez, Daniel Lincke, Robert J. Nicholls, Paolo Scussolini, Agustín Sanchez-Arcilla, Athanasios Vafeidis, Kwasi Appeaning Addo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

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Against the background of potentially substantial sea-level rise, one important question is to what extent are coastal societies able to adapt? This question is often answered in the negative by referring to sinking islands and submerged megacities. Although these risks are real, the picture is incomplete because it lacks consideration of adaptation. This Perspective explores societies' abilities to adapt to twenty-first-century sea-level rise by integrating perspectives from coastal engineering, economics, finance and social sciences, and provides a comparative analysis of a set of cases that vary in terms of technological limits, economic and financial barriers to adaptation and social conflicts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)570-578
Number of pages9
JournalNature Climate Change
Issue number7
Early online date25 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


J.H., J.C.J.H.A., S.B., J.A.J., D.L., R.J.N., P.S., A.S.A. and A.V. received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration under grant agreement no 603396 (RISES-AM project). J.H. and D.L. also received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement no. 642018 (GREEN-WIN project) and from the DFG under the SEASCAPE project as part of the Special Priority Program (SPP)-1889 "Regional Sea Level Change and Society" (SeaLevel). J.C.J.H.A. also received funding from Dutch Science foundation VICI grant no. 453-13-006. J.A.J. was also funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness project PaiRisClima (CGL2014-55387-R). We thank J. Merkens for providing the values included in Table 1. We also thank A. Shareef and Z. Khaleel from the Ministry of Environment and Energy for extended discussions about adapting to SLR in the Maldives.

FundersFunder number
Dutch Science foundation VICI453-13-006
Spanish Ministry of Economy and CompetitivenessCGL2014-55387-R
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme642018
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Seventh Framework Programme603396


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