, Volume 43, Issue 8, pp 996–1005 | Cite as

Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Wetlands

  • Brian Blankespoor
  • Susmita Dasgupta
  • Benoit Laplante


This paper seeks to quantify the impact of a 1-m sea-level rise on coastal wetlands in 86 developing countries and territories. It is found that approximately 68 % of coastal wetlands in these countries are at risk. A large percentage of this estimated loss is found in Europe and Central Asia, East Asia, and the Pacific, as well as in the Middle East and North Africa. A small number of countries will be severely affected. China and Vietnam (in East Asia and the Pacific), Libya and Egypt (in the Middle East and North Africa), and Romania and Ukraine (in Europe and Central Asia) will bear most losses. In economic terms, the loss of coastal wetlands is likely to exceed $703 million per year in 2000 US dollars.


Wetlands Valuation Climate change Sea-level rise GIS 



We would like to extend our special thanks to Ms. Polly Means for her help with the composition of graphics.


  1. Alongi, D. 2008. Mangrove forests: Resilience, protection from tsunamis and responses to global climate change. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 76: 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baldwin, A.H., M.S. Egnotovich, and E. Clarke. 2001. Hydrologic change and vegetation of tidal freshwater marshes: Field, greenhouse and seed-bank experiments. Wetlands 21: 519–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barbier, E.B. 1991. An approach to economic evaluation of tropical wetlands with examples from Guatemala and Nicaragua. In Caribbean ecology and economics, ed. N.P. Girvan, and D. Simons, 207–231. St. Michael: Caribbean Conservation Association.Google Scholar
  4. Barbier, E.B., M. Acreman, and D. Knowler. 1997. Economic valuation of wetlands: A guide for policy makers and planners. Gland: Ramsar Convention Bureau.Google Scholar
  5. Belperio, A.P. 1993. Land subsidence and sea-level rise in the port-Adelaide estuary: Implications for monitoring the greenhouse-effect. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences 40: 359–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blasco, F., P. Saenger, and E. Janodet. 1996. Mangroves as indicators of coastal change. Catena 27: 167–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brander, L.M., R.J.G.M. Florax, and J.E. Vermaat. 2006. The empirics of wetland valuation: A comprehensive summary and a meta-analysis of the literature. Environment and Resource Economics 33: 223–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brouwer, R., I.H. Langford, I.J. Bateman, T.C. Crowards, and R.K. Turner. 1999. A meta-analysis of wetland contingent valuation studies. Regional Environmental Change 1: 47–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Burkett, V.R., and J. Kusler. 2000. Climate change: Potential impacts and interactions in wetlands of the United States. Journal of American Water Resources 36: 313–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cahoon, D.R., P.F. Hensel, T. Spencer, D.J. Reed, K.L. McKee, and N. Saintilan. 2006. Coastal wetland vulnerability to relative sea-level rise: Wetland elevation trends and process controls. In Wetlands as a natural resource, vol. 1: Wetlands and natural resource management, ed. J. Verhoeven, D. Whigham, R. Bobbink, and B. Beltman, 271–292. Berlin: Springer Ecological Studies Series.Google Scholar
  11. Craft, C., J. Clough, J. Ehman, S. Joye, R. Park, S. Pennings, H. Guo, and M. Machmuller. 2009. Forecasting the effects of accelerated sea-level rise on tidal marsh ecosystem services. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 7: 73–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Day, J.W., G.P. Shaffer, L.D. Britsch, D.J. Reed, S.R. Hawes, and D. Cahoon. 2000. Pattern and process of land loss in the Mississippi Delta: A spatial and temporal analysis of wetland habitat change. Estuaries 4: 425–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Day, J., C. Ibanez, D.P. Scarton, P. Hensel, J. Day, and R. Lane. 2011. Sustainability of Mediterranean deltaic and lagoon wetlands with sea-level rise: The importance of river input. Estuaries and Coasts 34: 483–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dwidedi, D.N., and V.K. Sharma. 2005. Analysis of sea level rise and its impact on coastal wetlands of India. In Proceedings of the 14th Annual Coastal Zone Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana, July 17–21, 2005.Google Scholar
  15. Ellison, J.C. 1993. Mangrove retreat with rising sea-level, Bermuda. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 37: 75–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Erwin, K. 2009. Wetlands and global climate change: The role of wetland restoration in a changing world. Wetlands Ecology and Management 17: 71–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gilman, E., H. Van Lavieren, J. Ellison, V. Jungblut, L. Wilson, F. Areki, G. Brighouse, J. Bungitak, et al. 2006. Pacific Island Mangroves in a Changing Climate and Rising Sea. UNEP Regional Seas Reports and Studies No. 179. United Nations Environment Programme, Regional Seas Programme, Nairobi, Kenya.Google Scholar
  18. Hansen, J. 2006. Can we still avoid dangerous human-made climate change? Presentation on December 6, 2005 to the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, California. From
  19. Hansen, J. 2007. Scientific reticence and sea level rise. Environmental Research Letters 2. doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/2/2/024002.
  20. Hansen, J.E., and M. Sato. 2012. Paleoclimate implications for human-made climate change. In Climate change, 21–47. Veinna: Springer.Google Scholar
  21. Hoozemans, F.M.J., and C.H. Hulsbergen. 1995. Sea level rise: A global vulnerability assessment. In Climate change: Impact on coastal habitation, ed. D. Eisma, 137–163. London: Lewis Publishers.Google Scholar
  22. Hoozemans, F.M.J., M. Marchand, and H.A. Pennekamp. 1993. A global vulnerability analysis: Vulnerability assessment for population, coastal wetlands and rice production on a global scale, 2nd ed. Delft: Delft Hydraulics.Google Scholar
  23. Hughes, R.J. 2004. Climate change and loss of saltmarshes: Consequences for birds. Ibis 146: 21–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 2007. Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, Summary for Policymakers.Google Scholar
  25. Kirwan, M.L., G.R. Guntenspergen, A. D’Alpaos, J.T. Morris, S.M. Mudd, and S. Temmerman. 2010. Limits on the adaptability of coastal marshes to rising sea level. Geophysical Research Letters 37: L23401. doi: 10.1029/2010GL045489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Krabill, W., E. Hanna, P. Huybrechts, W. Abdalati, J. Cappelen, B. Csatho, E. Frederick, S. Manizade, et al. 2004. Greenland ice sheet: Increased coastal thinning. Geophysical Research Letters 31: L24402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Laffoley, D.d’A., and G. Grimsditch (eds). 2009. The management of natural coastal carbon sinks. 53 pp. Gland: IUCN.Google Scholar
  28. Larson, J.S., P.R. Adamus, and E.J. Clairain Jr. 1989. Functional assessment of freshwater wetlands: A manual and training outline, 62. Gland: WWF Publication.Google Scholar
  29. Lehner, B., and P. Döll. 2004. Development and validation of a global database of lakes, reservoirs and wetlands. Journal of Hydrology 296: 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McFadden, L., T. Spencer, and R.J. Nicholls. 2007. Broad-scale modelling of coastal wetlands: What is required? Hydrobiologia 577: 5–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. McIvor, A.L., T. Spencer, I. Möller, and M. Spalding. 2013. The response of mangrove soil surface elevation to sea level rise. Natural Coastal Protection Series: Report 3. Cambridge Coastal Research Unit Working Paper 42. Published by The Nature Conservancy and Wetlands International, 59 pp.Google Scholar
  32. Mcleod, E., G.L. Chmura, S. Bouillon, R. Salm, M. Bjork, C.M. Duarte, C.E. Lovelock, W.H. Schlesinger, et al. 2011. A blueprint for blue carbon: Toward an improved understanding of the role of vegetated coastal habitats in sequestering CO2. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 9: 552–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. McLeod, K.L., J. Lubchenco, S.R. Palumbi, and A.A. Rosenberg. 2005. Scientific Consensus Statement on Marine Ecosystem-Based Management. The Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea (COMPASS). Signed by 221 academic scientists and policy experts with relevant expertise. From
  34. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Ecosystems and human well-being: Wetlands and waters synthesis. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute.Google Scholar
  35. Morris, J.T., P.V. Sundareshwar, C.T. Nietch, B. Kjerfve, and D.R. Cahoon. 2002. Responses of coastal wetlands to rising sea level. Ecology 83: 2869–2877.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nicholls, R.J. 2004. Coastal flooding and wetland Loss in the 21st century: Changes under the SRES climate and socio-economic scenarios. Global Environmental Change 14: 69–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Nicholls, R.J., F.J.M. Hoozemans, and M. Marchand. 1999. Increasing flood risk and wetland losses due to global sea-level rise: Regional and global analyses. Global Environmental Change 9: 69–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nicholls, R.J., P.P. Wong, V.R. Burkett, J.O. Codignotto, J.E. Hay, R.F. McLean, S. Ragoonaden, and C.D. Woodroffe. 2007. Coastal systems and low-lying areas. In Climate change 2007: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, ed. M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden, and C.E. Hanson, 315–356. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Overpeck, J., B. Otto-Bliesner, G. Miller, D. Muhs, R. Alley, and J. Kiehl. 2006. Paleoclimatic evidence for future ice-sheet instability and rapid sea-level rise. Science 311: 1747–1750.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pfeffer, W.T., J.T. Harper, and S. O’Neel. 2008. Kinematic constraints on glacier contributions to 21st-century sea-level rise. Science 321: 1340–1343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rahmsdorf, S. 2007. A semi-empirical approach to projecting future sea-level rise. Science 308: 368–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Reed, D.J. 1995. The response of coastal marshes to sea-level rise: Survival or submergence? Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 20: 39–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schleupner, C. 2008. Evaluation of coastal squeeze and its consequences for the Caribbean island Martinique. Ocean and Coastal Management 51: 383–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Schuyt, K., and L. Brander. 2004. The Economic values of the World’s Wetlands. Gland: World Wildlife Fund for Nature.Google Scholar
  45. Semeniuk, V. 1994. Predicting the effect of sea-level rise on mangroves in Northwestern Australia. Journal of Coastal Research 10: 1050–1076.Google Scholar
  46. Snedaker, S.C. 1995. Mangroves and climate change in the Florida and Caribbean region: Scenarios and hypotheses. Hydrobiologia 295: 43–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Snidvongs, A., S. Choowaew, and S. Chinvanno. 2003. Impact of climate change on water and wetland resources in Mekong river basin: Directions for preparedness and action. IUCN and START (South East Asia Regional Center).Google Scholar
  48. Sun, G., S.G. McNulty, D.M. Amatya, R.W. Skaggs, L.W. Swift, P. Shepard, and H. Riekerk. 2002. A comparison of watershed hydrology of coastal forested wetlands and the mountainous uplands in the Southern US. Journal of Hydrology 263: 92–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Titus, J.G. 1988. Sea Level Rise and Wetland Loss: An Overview. In Greenhouse Effect, Sea Level Rise, and Coastal Wetlands, ed. J.G. Titus, 186 pp. Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.Google Scholar
  50. Vafeidis, A.T., R.J. Nicholls, L. McFadden, R.S.J. Tol, J. Hinkel, T. Spencer, P.S. Grashoff, G. Boot, et al. 2008. A new global coastal database for impact and vulnerability analysis to sea-level rise. Journal of Coastal Research 24: 917–924.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Vermeer, M., and S. Rahmstorf. 2009. Global sea level linked to global temperature. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106: 21527–21532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. VLIZ. 2011. Maritime Boundaries Geodatabase, version 6.1. Retrieved 12 May 2011, from
  53. Williams, M. 1990. Understanding wetlands. In Wetlands: A threatened landscape, ed. M. Williams. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  54. Woodward, R.T., and Y.S. Wui. 2001. The economic value of wetland services: A meta-analysis. Ecological Economics 37: 257–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. World Bank. 2010. Boundaries of the World. Washington, DC: Map Design Unit.Google Scholar
  56. World Resources Institute (WRI). 2000. Coastal and marine ecosystems—marine jurisdictions: Coastline length. Washington, DC: WRI.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian Blankespoor
    • 1
  • Susmita Dasgupta
    • 1
  • Benoit Laplante
    • 2
  1. 1.Development Research GroupWorld BankWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.SookeCanada

Personalised recommendations