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Managing shoreline retreat: a US perspective

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Abstract

As sea level rises, coastal communities will face increased risks of flooding, storm surge, and inundation. In some areas, structural protective measures will be built, and for some properties, accommodation to sea level rise may be possible. For other areas, however, some form of retreat will be either preferred on economic or sociopolitical grounds or required given fiscal constraints. This paper considers how society can proactively manage shoreline retreat in those locations where it is deemed the preferable policy. A three-part strategy is proposed: (1) reduce new development in the highest-risk areas; (2) adopt policies that allow for expected and orderly removal or modification of development as inundation occurs; and (3) take advantage of disasters to implement managed retreat approaches. Specific policies are recommended and the challenges of institutional change discussed.

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Notes

  1. For more information, see: http://www.csc.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/stories/slr-maryland.

  2. There have been volumes written on discounting and climate change and it is, therefore, not discussed here.

  3. Projections of SLR are uncertain. Recently, a process of structured expert judgment has been used to quantify these uncertainties (Bamber and Aspinall 2012).

  4. This argument was made at the American Geophysical Union 2013 Science Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., June 24–26.

  5. See, for example, the group Friends of Goleta Beach Park.

  6. See: http://www.chincoteague.com/preserve-access/.

  7. For more on the legal issues, see Titus (2010).

  8. For a discussion about the benefits of ex ante decision making in a different context, see Kousky et al. (2007).

  9. For more information, see http://www.nj.gov/dep/greenacres/blue_flood_ac.html.

  10. For example, homeowners may be myopic, and some argue it is the duty of governments to consider long-term outcomes (Cooper and McKenna 2008).

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Correspondence to Carolyn Kousky.

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Kousky, C. Managing shoreline retreat: a US perspective. Climatic Change 124, 9–20 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-014-1106-3

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