Physical and economic impacts of sea-level rise and low probability flooding events on coastal communities

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Abstract

Conventionally flood mapping typically includes only a static water level (e.g. peak of a storm tide) in coastal flood inundation events. Additional factors become increasingly important when increased water-level thresholds are met during the combination of a storm tide and increased mean sea level. This research incorporates factors such as wave overtopping and river flow in a range of flood inundation scenarios of future sea-level projections for a UK case study of Fleetwood, northwest England. With increasing mean sea level it is shown that wave overtopping and river forcing have an important bearing on the cost of coastal flood events. The method presented converts inundation maps into monetary cost. This research demonstrates that under scenarios of joint extreme surge-wave-river events the cost of flooding can be increased by up to a factor of 8 compared with an increase in extent of up to a factor of 3 relative to "surge alone" event. This is due to different areas being exposed to different flood hazards and areas with common hazard where flood waters combine non-linearly. This shows that relying simply on flood extent and volume can under-predict the actual economic impact felt by a coastal community. Additionally, the scenario inundation depths have been presented as "brick course" maps, which represent a new way of interpreting flood maps. This is primarily aimed at stakeholders to increase levels of engagement within the coastal community.

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Prime, T., Brown, J. M., & Plater, A. J. (2015). Physical and economic impacts of sea-level rise and low probability flooding events on coastal communities. PLoS ONE, 10(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0117030

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