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National assessment of coastal vulnerability to sea-level rise for the Chinese coast

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Sea-level rise as a result of climate change increases inundation and erosion, which are affected by a complex interplay of physical environmental parameters at the coast. China’s coast is vulnerable to accelerated sea-level rise and associated coastal flooding because of physical and socio-economical factors such as its low topography, highly developed economy, and highly dense population. To identify vulnerable sections of the coast, this paper presents a national assessment of the vulnerability of the Chinese coast using 8 physical variables: sea-level rise, coastal geomorphology, elevation, slope, shoreline erosion, land use, mean tide range, and mean wave height. A coastal vulnerability index was calculated by integrating the differentially weighted rank values of the 8 variables, based on which the coastline is segmented into 4 classes. The results show that 3% of the 18,000-km-long Chinese coast is very highly vulnerable, 29% is highly vulnerable, 58% is moderately vulnerable, and 10% is in the low-vulnerable class. Findings further reveal that large amounts of land and population will be vulnerable to inundation by coastal flooding from sea level rise and storm surge. Finally, some suggestions are presented for decision makers and other concerned stakeholders to develop appropriate coastal zone management and mitigation measures.

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This research was supported by the NationalNatural Science Foundation in China (Grant Nos: 41071324, 40730526, 40901010), Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality (Grant Nos: 08240514000), the Shanghai Youth Science and Technology Venus Program (Grants Nos: 09QA1401800), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, Key Subject Developing Project by Shanghai Municipal Education Commission (GrantNos:J50402), and Natural Science Research Project by Shanghai Normal University (Grant Nos: SK200727). We want to acknowledge suggestions from the anonymous reviewers, which helped to improve this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jie Yin.

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Yin, J., Yin, Z., Wang, J. et al. National assessment of coastal vulnerability to sea-level rise for the Chinese coast. J Coast Conserv 16, 123–133 (2012).

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