Incorporating climate change and morphological uncertainty into coastal change hazard assessments

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Abstract

Documented and forecasted trends in rising sea levels and changes in storminess patterns have the potential to increase the frequency, magnitude, and spatial extent of coastal change hazards. To develop realistic adaptation strategies, coastal planners need information about coastal change hazards that recognizes the dynamic temporal and spatial scales of beach morphology, the climate controls on coastal change hazards, and the uncertainties surrounding the drivers and impacts of climate change. We present a probabilistic approach for quantifying and mapping coastal change hazards that incorporates the uncertainty associated with both climate change and morphological variability. To demonstrate the approach, coastal change hazard zones of arbitrary confidence levels are developed for the Tillamook County (State of Oregon, USA) coastline using a suite of simple models and a range of possible climate futures related to wave climate, sea-level rise projections, and the frequency of major El Niño events. Extreme total water levels are more influenced by wave height variability, whereas the magnitude of erosion is more influenced by sea-level rise scenarios. Morphological variability has a stronger influence on the width of coastal hazard zones than the uncertainty associated with the range of climate change scenarios.

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Baron, H. M., Ruggiero, P., Wood, N. J., Harris, E. L., Allan, J., Komar, P. D., & Corcoran, P. (2015). Incorporating climate change and morphological uncertainty into coastal change hazard assessments. Natural Hazards, 75(3), 2081–2102. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-014-1417-8

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