Climate Adaptation of Sea-Level Rise in Hong Kong

  • Yun Fat LamEmail author
  • Shimul Roy


Hong Kong is a coastal city with 733 km long of coastline. With the high-rise buildings residing millions of people, it is highly susceptible to the impacts of sea-level rise (SLR) and storm surge. It is observed that the average sea level has been steadily increased at a rate of ~3.1 cm per decade. As the sea level rise is expected to be exacerbated in the end of this century, due to climate change, it would be important for the local government to implement adaptation measures for combating this issue. In 2013, the Hong Kong government initiated a comprehensive review on SLR caused by climate change and its implications on design of coastal structure, attempting to update the existing Port Works Division Manual (PWDM). In the study, the IPCC AR5 was used as the projection scenario for estimating future SLR in Hong Kong. Pattern scaling was applied to normalize the relationship between the local SLR and global SLR from different AR5 scenarios (i.e., RCP scenarios), producing a 2D SLR pattern for the South China Sea. It is recommended that the height of the coastal structures should be increased by 0.46, 0.56, 0.58 and 0.78 m for accounting the rise in the mean sea level under RCP2.6, 4.5, 6.0 and 8.5 scenarios, respectively. For the worst-case scenario (i.e., RCP8.5), the construction cost associated with the changes in the coastal structures (e.g., public pier structure and vertical block work seawall) would be increased by 1.3–1.9%.


Climate change SLR Pattern scale Sea-level projection Thermal expansion 



The work was partially supported by the Guy Carpenter Asia-Pacific Climate Impact Centre, City University of Hong Kong, HKSAR (Project No. 9360126), and the contract research from Ove Arup and Partners (Hong Kong) Limited. The authors also gratefully acknowledge Civil Engineering and Development Department, and Hong Kong Observatory for providing the required data.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography, University of Hong KongPokfulamHong Kong
  2. 2.School of Energy and Environment, City University of Hong KongKowloon TongHong Kong

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