Sustainability Science

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 423–440 | Cite as

Exposure of atoll population to coastal erosion and flooding: a South Tarawa assessment, Kiribati

  • Virginie Duvat
  • Alexandre Magnan
  • Frédéric Pouget
Special Feature: Original Article Understanding and Managing Global Change in Small Islands

Abstract

Atoll countries are particularly vulnerable to coastal hazards in the context of global change, which justifies the interest in population exposure assessments. This paper contributes to addressing this need by assessing the current exposure of the population of two areas of the South Tarawa Urban District (Tarawa Atoll, Republic of Kiribati) to coastal erosion and flooding. The assessment is based on data relating to island morphology (digital terrain models and shoreline change), land use (building extension and coastal works) and environmental changes reconstructed for the 1969–2008 period. The results highlight rapid changes in land use and significant differences in current population exposure to coastal erosion and flooding between and within study sites. Between 1969 and 2007–2008, the built area located less than 20 m from the reference shoreline has increased by a factor of 4.2 at Bairiki and by a factor of 32.2 at Eita–Bangantebure, enhancing population exposure given that land elevation is low (12.6 and 77.4 % <2 m at Bairiki and Eita–Bangantebure, respectively). Nevertheless, in Bairiki, 87.5 % of the built area is currently not exposed to coastal erosion (>20 m from the coastline) and flooding (>1.5 m). Building exposure is higher at Eita–Bangantebure, where 71.3 % of the built area is currently not exposed (using the same criteria), but 17.1 % shows medium to very high levels of exposure, due to very low land elevation (22.3 % of the land area <1.5 m) and shoreline recession. The Eita–Bangantebure case study exemplifies the maladaptive trajectories of change that have been reported in other atoll countries.

Keywords

Population exposure Coastal erosion Flooding SIDS Kiribati Trajectories of change 

References

  1. Asian Development Bank (ADB) (2008) Kiribati social and economic report. Managing development risk. Pacific series studiesGoogle Scholar
  2. Asian Development Bank (ADB), Ministry of Home Affairs and Rural Development (MHARD) (1996) South Tarawa integrated urban plans and programme study, vol 2. Final reportGoogle Scholar
  3. AUSAID (2007) Pacific country report on sea level and climate: their present state. KiribatiGoogle Scholar
  4. Barnett J, Adger WN (2003) Climate dangers and atoll countries. Clim Change 61:321–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barnett J, Campbell J (2010) Climate change and small island states. Power, knowledge and the South Pacific. Earthscan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Burgess SM (1987) The climate and weather of Western Kiribati. Report 188. New Zealand Meteorological Service, WellingtonGoogle Scholar
  7. Cardona OD, Van Aalst MK, Birkmann J, Fordham M, McGregor G, Perez R, Pulwarty RS, Schipper ELF, Sinh BT (2012) Determinants of risk: exposure and vulnerability. In: Field CB, Barros V, Stocker TF, Qin D, Dokken DJ, Ebi KL, Mastrandrea MD, Mach KJ, Plattner GK, Allen SK, Tignor M, Midgley and PM (eds) Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation. A special report of working groups I and II of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 65–108Google Scholar
  8. Church JA, White NJ, Hunter JR (2006) Sea-level rise at tropical Pacific and Indian Ocean islands. Glob Planet Change 53:155–168. doi:10.106/j.gloplacha.2006.04.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Damlamian H (2008) Hydrodynamic model of Tarawa water circulation and applications. SOPAC project report 134Google Scholar
  10. Doran E (1960) Report on Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands. Atoll Res Bull 72:1–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fazey I, Pettorelli N, Kenter J, Wagatora S, Schuett D (2011) Maladaptive trajectories of change in Makira, Solomon Islands. Glob Environ Change 21:1275–1289. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.07.006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Forbes DL (1995) Circulation and sand supply on Pacific atolls: coastal management challenges at Tarawa (Kiribati) and Aitutaki (Cook Islands). In: Proceedings, Canadian coastal conference 1995, Dartmouth, NS, pp 315–329Google Scholar
  13. Forbes DL, Biribo N (1996) Shore zone sands, South Tarawa, Kiribati. SOPAC, Suva, technical report 235Google Scholar
  14. Forbes DL, Hosoi Y (1995) Coastal erosion in South Tarawa. SOPAC technical report 225Google Scholar
  15. Ford M (2012) Shoreline changes on an urban atoll in the Central Pacific Ocean: Majuro Atoll. Marshall islands. J Coast Res 28(1):11–22. doi:12.2112/JCOASTRES-D-11-00008.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gilmour AJ, Colman R (1990) A pilot environmental study of the outer island development program, Republic of Kiribati. Unpublished report, Macquarie UniversityGoogle Scholar
  17. Government of Kiribati (GoK) (2007) 2005 census of population. Basic information and tables, vol 1, revised versionGoogle Scholar
  18. Government of Kiribati (GoK) (2010) 2010 census of population. Preliminary resultsGoogle Scholar
  19. Hay JE, Onorio K (2006) Kiribati. Country environmental analysis. Integrating environmental considerations in economic and development planning processes. Asian Development Bank ReportGoogle Scholar
  20. He C (2001) Assessment of the vulnerability of Bairiki and Bikenibeu, South Tarawa, Kiribati, to accelerated sea-level rise. SOPAC technical report 322Google Scholar
  21. Jones P, Lea J (2007) What has happened to urban reform in the island Pacific? Some lessons from Kiribati and Samoa. Pac Aff 80:473–491CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lowe JA, Woodworth P, Knutson T, McDonald RE, McInnes KL, Woth K, Von Storch H, Wolf J, Swail V, Bernier NB, Gulev S, Horsburgh KJ, Unnikrishnan AS, Hunter JR, Weisse R (2010) Past and future changes in extreme sea levels and waves. In: Church JA, Woodworth PL, Aarup T, Wilson WS (eds) Understanding sea-level rise and variability. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, pp 326–375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Marshall JF, Jacobson G (1985) Holocene growth of a mid-Pacific atoll: Tarawa, Kiribati. Coral Reefs 4:11–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Maude HE, Doran E (1966) The precedence of Tarawa Atoll. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 56:269–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. McArthur N, McCaig JB (1963) A report on the results of the census of the population 1963. Fiji Government Press of SuvaGoogle Scholar
  26. McLeman R (2010) Impacts of population change on vulnerability and the capacity to adapt to climate change and variability: a typology based on lessons from a hard country. Popul Environ 31:286–316. doi:10.1007/s11111-009-0087-z CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mimura N (1999) Vulnerability of island countries in the South Pacific to sea level rise and climate change. Clim Res 12:137–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mimura N, Nurse L, McLean RF, Agard L, Briguglio L, Lefale P, Payet R, Sem G (2007) Small islands. In: Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, Van der Linden PJ, Hanson CE (eds) Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of working group II to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 687–716Google Scholar
  29. Novelo-Casanova DA, Suárez G (2010) Natural and man-made hazards in the Cayman Islands. Nat Hazards 55(3):441–466. doi:10.1007/s11069-010-9539-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Novelo-Casanova DA, Suárez G (2012) Exposure of main critical facilities to natural and man-made hazards in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. Nat Hazards 61(3):1277–1292. doi:10.1007/s11069-011-9982-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nunn PD (2009) Responding to the challenges of climate change in the Pacific Islands: management and technological imperatives. Clim Res 40:211–231. doi:10.3354/cr00806 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rankey EC (2011) Nature and stability of atoll island shorelines: Gilbert Island chain, Kiribati, equatorial Pacific. Sedimentology. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3091.2011.01241.x Google Scholar
  33. Rapaport M (1990) Population pressure on coral atolls: trends and approaching limits. Atoll Res Bull 340:1–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Richmond BM (1992) Development of atoll islets in the Central Pacific. In: Proceedings of the 7th international coral reef symposium, vol 2, pp 1185–1194Google Scholar
  35. Sachet H (1957) Climate and meteorology of the Gilbert Islands. Atoll Res Bull 60:20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Seneviratne SI, Nicholls N, Easterling D, Goodess CM, Kanae S, Kossin J, Luo Y, Marengo J, McInnes K, Rahimi M, Reichstein M, Sorteberg A, Vera C, Zhang K (2012) Changes in climate extremes and their impacts on the natural physical environment. In: Field CB, Barros V, Stocker TF, Qin D, Dokken DJ, Ebi KL, Mastrandrea MD, Mach KJ, Plattner G-K, Allen SK, Tignor M, Midgley PM (eds) Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation. A special report of working groups I and II of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 109–230Google Scholar
  37. Solomon SM, Forbes DL (1999) Coastal hazards and associated management issues on South Pacific Islands. Ocean Coast Manag 42:523–554CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Spennemann DHR (1996) Non traditional settlement patterns and typhoon hazard on contemporary Majuro Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands. Environ Manag 20:337–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Stoddart DR (1968) Catastrophic human interference with coral atoll ecosystems. Geography 53(1):25–40Google Scholar
  40. Storey D, Hunter S (2010) Kiribati: an environmental ‘perfect storm’. Aust Geogr 41(2):167–181. doi:10.1080/00049181003742294 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Webb AP (2005) An assessment of coastal processes, impacts, erosion mitigation options and beach mining: Bairiki/Nanikaai causeway, Tungaru Central Hospital coastline and Bonriki runway. South Tarawa, Kiribati. Technical report 46Google Scholar
  42. Webb AP (2006) Analysis of coastal change and erosion. Tebunginako village, Abaiang, Kiribati. Technical report 53Google Scholar
  43. Webb AP, Kench PS (2010) The dynamic response of reef islands to sea-level rise: evidence from multi-decadal analysis of island change in the Central Pacific. Glob Planet Change 72:234–246. doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2010.05.003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Woodroffe CD (2008) Reef-island topography and the vulnerability of atolls to sea-level rise. Glob Planet Change 62:77–96. doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2007.11.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Woodroffe CD, McLean RF (1992) Kiribati vulnerability to accelerated sea-level rise: a preliminary study. Unpublished report to Australian Government. University of Wollongong & Australian Defence Force AcademyGoogle Scholar
  46. Xue C (2001) Coastal erosion and management of Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands. J Coast Res 17:908–918Google Scholar
  47. Yamano H, Kayenne H, Yamaguchi T, Kuwahara Y, Yokoki H, Shimazaki H, Chikamori M (2007) Atoll island vulnerability to flooding and inundation revealed by historical reconstruction: Fongafale Islet, Funafuti Atoll, Tuvalu. Glob Planet Change 57:407–416. doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2007.02.007 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Virginie Duvat
    • 1
  • Alexandre Magnan
    • 2
  • Frédéric Pouget
    • 1
  1. 1.UMR LIENSs 7266University of la Rochelle-CNRSLa RochelleFrance
  2. 2.Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI-Sciences Po)ParisFrance

Personalised recommendations