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Flood hazard and damage assessment in the Ebro Delta (NW Mediterranean) to relative sea level rise

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Abstract

The impact of relative sea-level rise (RSLR), damage to and possible responses in the Ebro Delta (NW Mediterranean) has been analyzed. Impact was determined by delineating delta areas prone to flooding under different RSLR scenarios. The surface areas of the different habitats were then quantified for flooding impact and affected ecosystems were assessed. The obtained results enabled us to characterize the Ebro Delta as a coastal environment that is highly sensitive to changes in sea level, with affected flooded areas likely to range between about 45 and 60 % for different RSLR scenarios, from which about 26 % would be inundated by subsidence only. In absolute terms, the habitat most likely to be affected by flooding was cropland. In relative terms, the most affected habitats were those typical of the lowest areas: saltwater wetlands, riparian buffer and areas of saline vegetation. Under present deltaic evolution with no sediment supply, adaptation is considered a plausible option for managing the Ebro delta under a RSLR scenario. This implies permitting surface area losses or land use changes in the lower parts of the delta, where natural values will be reinforced, and concentrating agriculture in the higher parts of the deltaic plain.

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Acknowledgments

This work has been done in the framework of the VuCoMa and PaiRisC-M research projects, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Research and Innovation (CTM2008-05597/MAR and CTM2011-29808 respectively). Additional support was given by the Spanish Ministry of Environment, Marine and Rural Affairs. Ebro delta topographic data were obtained from Institut Cartogràfic de Catalunya.

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Correspondence to José A. Jiménez.

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Alvarado-Aguilar, D., Jiménez, J.A. & Nicholls, R.J. Flood hazard and damage assessment in the Ebro Delta (NW Mediterranean) to relative sea level rise. Nat Hazards 62, 1301–1321 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-012-0149-x

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