Booming prices for coastal properties are a mark of our reluctance to reckon with the climate change that is already upon us. We must start to properly account for and act on climate risk.
New breakwater designs and more sustainable materials can cut the carbon cost of coastal defences by 40%.
Miami and Miami Beach were built right up to the waterfront, with little room for nature.
Shobeir Ansari via Getty Images
The Army Corps of Engineers is planning a sea wall 6 miles long and flood gates. The infrastructure might protect downtown from a hurricane storm surge, but most of the area will still be vulnerable.
Mangroves, like these in Madagascar, provide a range of benefits, including protection from storms and the prevention of coastal erosion.
(Louise Jasper/Blue Ventures)
Despite their enormous value, mangroves are being removed at an alarming rate. A new tool aims to help communities reverse mangrove loss and tap into conservation programs and funding.
Fort Drummond at Mount Saint Thomas, NSW.
Some of our coastal defences are in desperate need of preservation and could be transformed into tourist attractions.
Mangroves along Mexico’s Yucatan coastline.
A new study estimates that mangroves prevent over $65 billion in damage from coastal storms every year, and says mangrove protection should be funded in the same way as infrastructure like seawalls.
Underwater view of waves breaking over a healthy coral reef, reducing wave energy at the shoreline that can cause flooding.
Curt Storlazzi, USGS
A new report shows that coral reefs reduce damage from floods across the United States and its trust territories by more than $1.8 billion every year – and pinpoints that value state by state.
Coastal erosion at Skipsea, East Yorkshire, UK.
Matthew J Thomas/Shutterstock
Rising sea levels won’t be solved by trying to fix the coast in place. For a defence from coastal flooding, we need to step back.
Protecting coastal wetlands, like this slough in Florida’s Everglades National Park, is a cost-effective way to reduce flooding and storm damage.
Coastal development is destroying marshes, mangroves and other wetlands that provide valuable protection from hurricanes and storms. Research shows these benefits can be worth millions of dollars.
Cumberland Island National Seashore off the coast of Georgia.
How do the narrow ribbons of sand that line the Atlantic and Gulf coasts withstand the force of hurricanes? The answer lies in their shape-shifting abilities.
Beach erosion in Nags Head, North Carolina, photographed May 15, 2005.
Many US coastal towns are building defenses to protect against rising seas and storms. This can encourage people to stay in place when they should be moving inland.
The biggest risk to cities during cyclones comes from storm surge and rainfall – all the water has to go somewhere.
Cities would suffer much less damage and avoid the huge financial losses if we designed them to cope with the effects of cyclones.
The real risk is from sudden storms – but there are ways to limit the damage, if cities start planning now.
While some councils wish to take a long-term view of what can reasonably be done in the face of sea-level rises, private property owners just want their homes protected.
Many properties are at risk from rising sea levels, with owners and councils at odds over the costs of defending these. NSW law reform may lead to more forward-looking climate change adaptation.
In the aftermath of 2012’s deadly Hurricane Sandy, New York launched a US$20 billion plan to defend the city against future storms as well as rising sea levels.
Managing the impacts of rising seas for some communities is being made more difficult by the actions of governments, homeowners – and even some well-intentioned climate adaptation experts.
Hard at work, so you can have fun in the sun.
But sandy beaches aren’t just tourist eye candy – they’re a vital defence against coastal erosion.
Groynes at the Keta Sea Defense Project on Ghana’s coast.
Kwasi Addo Appeaning
Unless something is done to curb erosion, Ghana’s coast could soon whither away.
Scarborough, Queensland: no longer allowed to factor in sea-level rise in its planning laws.
Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney’s decision, revealed this week, to order a Brisbane council to remove future sea-level rise from its planning regulations seems a rather short-sighted thing to do…
Stack ‘em high: big, health reefs take the sting out of stormy seas.
Dennis M. Sabangan/EPA
Coral reefs: fragile, delicate, and in danger? Actually coral reefs can be the first line in defence against incoming storms, reducing the power of incoming waves by 97%, even during hurricane-force winds…