Costs of Adapting Coastal Defences to Sea-Level Rise— New Estimates and Their Implications

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Abstract

Jonkman, S.N.; Hillen, M.M.; Nicholls, R.J.; Kanning, W., and van Ledden, M., 2013. Costs of adapting coastal defences to sea-level rise—new estimates and their implications. Journal of Coastal Research, 29(5), 1212–1226. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749–0208.

The cost of upgrading and raising coastal defences is an important consideration in societal response to sea-level rise. Currently available unit cost estimates have a limited empirical basis. This article presents new information on the unit costs of adapting coastal defences for three specific case studies in low-lying delta regions: The Netherlands, New Orleans, and Vietnam. Typical measures include dikes, flood walls, storm surge barriers, and nourishment. These unit cost estimates are significantly higher than earlier estimates that are still the main source of costs for global vulnerability assessments. Factors affecting these unit costs include local economic factors (material and labour costs), design choices related to the alignment of the system, and the types of measures for implementation of the system in an urban or rural environment. On the basis of an example for a Dutch sea dike, it is shown that the material quantities and associated costs are expected to rise linearly, in the case of depth-limited wave breaking, for the range of sea-level rise rates that are expected in the coming century. However, other factors, such as increasing costs for implementation of wider coastal defences in an urban environment and future changes in material and labour costs, could contribute to a nonlinear increase of the costs. Further collection and analysis of project information for coastal defence projects in other regions is recommended to strengthen the empirical basis of the cost estimates that are used for regional and global assessments.

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