Adaptation to multi-meter sea-level rise should start now

Gonéri Le Cozannet, Robert J. Nicholls, Gael Durand, Aimée B. A. Slangen, Daniel Lincke, Anne Chapuis

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Sea-level rise will fundamentally change coastal zones worldwide (Cooley et al 2022). A global two meters rise of sea level will be exceeded sooner or later within a time window ranging from one century to as long as two millennia, depending on future greenhouse gas emissions and polar ice-sheet melting (Fox-Kemper et al 2021). Here, we show that in addition to climate mitigation to slow this rise, adaptation to two meters of sea-level rise should start now. This involves changing our mindset to define a strategic vision for these threatened coastal areas and identify realistic pathways to achieve this vision. This can reduce damages, losses, and lock-ins in the future, identify problems before they become critical and exploit opportunities if they emerge. To meet this challenge, it is essential that coastal adaptation becomes core to coastal development, especially for long-lived critical infrastructure. Coastal adaptation will be an ongoing process for many decades and centuries, requiring the support of climate services, which make the links between science, policy and adaptation practice.
Original languageEnglish
Article number091001
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number9
Early online date24 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2023


  • coastal adaptation
  • high-end scenarios
  • sea-level commitment
  • sea-level rise

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