Analysis of Global Sea Level Rise Impact Risk Assessments

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Global sea levels currently are rising and will continue to rise far into the future. This rise engenders significant risks to life and the environment, as it creates negative physical, economic, and societal impacts across the globe. If the various geographic regions across the globe are to adequately prepare for the rising sea, it is necessary to conduct risk assessments to determine which specific impacts to address.

This paper examines a diversity of risk assessments conducted by regions worldwide. It includes a range of studies that assess regions with differing economic capacities, types of terrain, location, and that implement a range of methodologies. It examines and compares the impacts included in the analyses, as well as the variable inputs that were implemented to conduct the assessments. Through a comparison of the components and results of a variety of risk analyses, this study provides valuable insights into the diverse impacts that may be selected for inclusion in future sea level rise studies. The goal of this study is to assist regions in tackling the problem of sea level rise by providing a foundation to streamline the process for future assessments.

Based on the assessed reports, the results demonstrate that the most commonly analyzed impacts are those to a region’s economy and population. Additionally, the impacts to a region’s infrastructure, particularly transportation infrastructure, and total land surface appear to be of great importance. The variable inputs that appear to be most commonly applied to assess the impacts are storm surge and a range of sea level rise scenarios, as opposed to one specific future sea level rise quantity. Overall, there is no correlation between a study region and the quantity of impacts analyzed or depth of the impacts assessed.

The majority of the studies were conducted with quantitative methods. However, it is recommended that future assessments also include a qualitative perspective. Lastly, omissions of variables from the reports are explored. Future impact studies should include location-specific trends in sea level rise, as opposed to assessing the impacts based on the global average future sea level rise prediction. It is also important to incorporate the speed of the rise in a dynamic analysis, as well as any uncertainties in a report’s input variables.





Ward, Molly (2011). Analysis of Global Sea Level Rise Impact Risk Assessments. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.