Addressing the challenges of climate change risks and adaptation in coastal areas: A review

Alexandra Toimil, Iñigo J. Losada, Robert J. Nicholls, Robert A. Dalrymple, Marcel J.F. Stive

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


Climate change is and will continue altering the world's coasts, which are the most densely populated and economically active areas on earth and home for highly valuable ecosystems. While there is considerable relevant research, in the authors' experience this problem remains challenging for coastal engineering. This paper reviews important challenges in this respect and identifies three key actions to address them: (a) refocusing traditional practice towards more climate-aware approaches; (b) developing more comprehensive risk frameworks that include the multi-dimensionality and non-stationarity of their components and consideration of uncertainty; and (c) building bridges between risk assessment and adaptation theory and practice. We conclude that the way forward includes numerous activities including increased observations; the attribution of coastal impacts to their drivers; enhanced climate projections and their integration into impact models; more impact assessments at the local scale; dynamic projections of spatially-distributed exposure and vulnerability; and the exploration of inherently adaptive options. Given the complexity of the possible solutions, more practical guidance is required.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103611
JournalCoastal Engineering
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Adaptation
  • Climate change
  • Coastal engineering
  • Non-stationarity
  • Risk
  • Uncertainty

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