Sustainability Science

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 89–102

Climate change and coastal vulnerability assessment: scenarios for integrated assessment

  • Robert J. Nicholls
  • Poh Poh Wong
  • Virginia Burkett
  • Colin D. Woodroffe
  • John Hay
Special Feature: Original Article Sea-level rise

DOI: 10.1007/s11625-008-0050-4

Cite this article as:
Nicholls, R.J., Wong, P.P., Burkett, V. et al. Sustain Sci (2008) 3: 89. doi:10.1007/s11625-008-0050-4


Coastal vulnerability assessments still focus mainly on sea-level rise, with less attention paid to other dimensions of climate change. The influence of non-climatic environmental change or socio-economic change is even less considered, and is often completely ignored. Given that the profound coastal changes of the twentieth century are likely to continue through the twenty-first century, this is a major omission, which may overstate the importance of climate change, and may also miss significant interactions of climate change with other non-climate drivers. To better support climate and coastal management policy development, more integrated assessments of climatic change in coastal areas are required, including the significant non-climatic changes. This paper explores the development of relevant climate and non-climate drivers, with an emphasis on the non-climate drivers. While these issues are applicable within any scenario framework, our ideas are illustrated using the widely used SRES scenarios, with both impacts and adaptation being considered. Importantly, scenario development is a process, and the assumptions that are made about future conditions concerning the coast need to be explicit, transparent and open to scientific debate concerning their realism and likelihood. These issues are generic across other sectors.


Coasts Impacts Adaptation Scenario Storyline 

Copyright information

© Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science and Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert J. Nicholls
    • 1
  • Poh Poh Wong
    • 2
  • Virginia Burkett
    • 3
  • Colin D. Woodroffe
    • 4
  • John Hay
    • 5
  1. 1.School of Civil Engineering and the Environment and Tyndall Centre for Climate Change ResearchUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  2. 2.Department of GeographyNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  3. 3.United States Geological SurveyManyUSA 
  4. 4.University of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  5. 5.Institute for Global Change Adaptation Science (ICAS)Ibaraki UniversityMitoJapan

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