Original Article

Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change

, Volume 15, Issue 7, pp 703-719

First online:

Assessing risk of and adaptation to sea-level rise in the European Union: an application of DIVA

  • Jochen HinkelAffiliated withPotsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)European Climate Forum (ECF) Email author 
  • , Robert J. NichollsAffiliated withSchool of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Southampton
  • , Athanasios T. VafeidisAffiliated withInstitute of Geography, Christian-Albrechts University Kiel, “Coastal Risks and Sea-Level Rise” Research Group, The Future Ocean Excellence Cluster
  • , Richard S.J. TolAffiliated withEconomic and Social Research InstituteInstitute for Environmental Studies, Vrije UniversiteitDepartment of Spatial Economics, Vrije Universiteit
  • , Thaleia AvagianouAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, University of the Aegean

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This paper applies the DIVA model to assess the risk of and adaptation to sea-level rise for the European Union in the 21st century under the A2 and B1 scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. For each scenario, impacts are estimated without and with adaptation in the form of increasing dike heights and nourishing beaches. Before 2050, the level of impacts is primarily determined by socio-economic development. In 2100 and assuming no adaptation, 780 × 103 people/year are estimated to be affected by coastal flooding under A2 and 200 × 103 people/year under B1. The total monetary damage caused by flooding, salinity intrusion, land erosion and migration is projected to be about US$ 17 × 109 under both scenarios in 2100; damage costs relative to GDP are highest for the Netherlands (0.3% of GDP under A2). Adaptation reduces the number of people flooded by factors of 110 to 288 and total damage costs by factors of 7 to 9. In 2100 adaptation costs are projected to be US$ 3.5 × 109 under A2 and 2.6 × 109 under B1; adaptation costs relative to GDP are highest for Estonia (0.16% under A2) and Ireland (0.05% under A2). These results suggest that adaptation measures to sea-level rise are beneficial and affordable, and will be widely applied throughout the European Union.


Adaptation DIVA model Europe Flood risk Sea-level rise