Climatic Change

, 91:123

First online:

Worst case scenario as stakeholder decision support: a 5- to 6-m sea level rise in the Rhone delta, France

  • Marc PoumadèreAffiliated withInstitut Symlog Email author 
  • , Claire MaysAffiliated withInstitut Symlog
  • , Gabriela PfeifleAffiliated withInstitut SymlogUniversité Toulouse 2 - Le Mirail
  • , Athanasios T. VafeidisAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, University of the Aegean

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Risk policy and public attitudes appear disconnected from research predicting warmer climate partially due to human activity. To step out of this stalled situation, a worst case scenario of a 5- to 6-m sea level rise (SLR) induced by the collapse of the WAIS and occurring during the period 2030–2130 is constructed and applied to the Rhone delta. Physical and socio-economic scenarios developed with data from the Rhone delta context are developed and submitted to stakeholders for a day-long workshop. Group process analysis shows a high level of trust and cooperation mobilized to face the 5–6 m SLR issue, despite potentially diverging interests. Two sets of recommendations stem from the scenario workshop. A conservative “wait and see” option is decided when the risk of the WAIS collapse is announced in 2030. After WAIS collapse generates an effective 1 m SLR rise by 2050, decisions are taken for total retreat and rendering of the Rhone delta to its hydrological function. The transposition of these results into present-day policy decisions could be considered. The methodology developed here could be applied to other risk objects and situations, and serve for policy exercises and crisis prevention.