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Neo-Atlantis: The Netherlands under a 5-m sea level rise


What could happen to the Netherlands if, in 2030, the sea level starts to rise and eventually, after 100 years, a sea level of 5 m above current level would be reached? This question is addressed by studying literature, by interviewing experts in widely differing fields, and by holding an expert workshop on this question. Although most experts believe that geomorphology and current engineering skills would enable the country to largely maintain its territorial integrity, there are reasons to assume that this is not likely to happen. Social processes that precede important political decisions – such as the growth of the belief in the reality of sea level rise and the framing of such decisions in a proper political context (policy window) – evolve slowly. A flood disaster would speed up the decision-making process. The shared opinion of the experts surveyed is that eventually part of the Netherlands would be abandoned.


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Correspondence to Xander Olsthoorn.

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Olsthoorn, X., van der Werff, P., Bouwer, L.M. et al. Neo-Atlantis: The Netherlands under a 5-m sea level rise. Climatic Change 91, 103–122 (2008).

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  • European Union
  • Gross Domestic Product
  • Flood Risk
  • Flood Disaster
  • Flood Protection