Marine Policy Center, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Global climate change is expected to result in rising sea levels at coastal locations around the world. Sea-level rise may lead to increases in the frequency and extent of flooding during storms and coastal erosion, thereby changing the shape and character of the coast. Because of these shoreline changes, human uses of the coast and natural coastal habitats may be adversely affected. We review the nature of the coastal hazards associated with shoreline change. We characterize the general types of economic costs, including both the damages from these hazards and the costs of responding to mitigate damages. We compare two general approaches that have been undertaken to estimate the costs of shoreline change in the United States. We discuss a general method for linking models of coastal geology with models of human decision-making at varying community scales. Importantly, we show that there may be an economic benefit to undertaking scientific research that increases our understanding about the rate of sea-level rise and its associated hazards.