2007 Fall Meeting          
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Cite abstracts as Author(s) (2007), Title, Eos Trans. AGU,
(52), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract xxxxx-xx
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HR: 16:45h
TI: On the use of Local Sea Level Scenarios for Managing and Mitigating the Impact of Coastal Inundation
AU: * Plag, H
EM: hpplag@unr.edu
AF: Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology and Seismological Laboratory, University of Nevada, Reno, Mail Stop 178, Reno, NV 89557, United States
AU: Hammond, W C
EM: whammond@unr.edu
AF: Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology and Seismological Laboratory, University of Nevada, Reno, Mail Stop 178, Reno, NV 89557, United States
AB: Coastal inundation is increasingly recognized at national and international levels as an issue with potentially extreme societal impact. Consequently, there is an urgent need for decision-support tools that would help to manage and mitigate the impacts of coastal inundation, storm surges, and human activities on coastal communities and ecosystems. Decision making with respect to mitigation in the coastal zone is an extremely complicated issue for various reasons, including but not limited to: (i) The time scales involved are long from a human perspective, with coastal engineering typically dealing with infrastructure with a life time of 50 to 200 years. (ii) The economic scale of the problem is extreme: For example, the costs for increasing the height of the coastal dikes in Germany by 1 m are estimated to be of the order of 300 billion Euro; the flood gates being built in Venice are an estimated 5 billion Euro. The scale of the required investments is often seen as prohibitive for precautionary action without solid scientific basis, and failing to invest where needed may lead to large economic losses as demonstrated in New Orleans. (iii) Coastal zones are a magnet for human activities (one could say that society tends to put its "jewelry" in the coastal zone): the main increase in vulnerability in the coastal zone is not expected to come from increased hazards due to climate change but rather from increased risks due to continuing migration of population into the coastal zone and an associated increase in key infrastructure. Decisions on mitigation and adaptation in the coastal zone are likely to affect the life and prosperity of people in the future. Reliable and precise predictions of coastal inundation risks, for example through local sea level rise, would be invaluable for decision support. However, considering the aleatory and epistemic uncertainties in the processes that contribute to the hazards and risks in coastal zones over the 50 to 100 year time scale, accurate predictions cannot be made. What can be provided at best are reasonable scenarios, which describe a set of plausible trajectories based on the best information available about the present trends and specific assumptions about future evolution of the system. Scenarios thus give a better indication of the range of plausible futures than analyses based solely on aleatory uncertainty of present trends. Unfortunately, applying this approach to the coastal zone often emphasizes the large uncertainties and wide range of plausible futures (particularly if a realistic variety of assumptions is considered). We have developed an observation-based approach to scenarios for future local sea levels which allows us to consider a wide range of assumptions concerning the main contributions (vertical land motion, steric changes in the ocean volume, atmospheric circulation changes, and ocean-ice mass exchange) and thus to assess the full range of plausible futures a given location might be facing, including the associated uncertainties. We will demonstrate the approach for three example locations (Venice, New Orleans, Boston) and discuss the relative weight of the uncertainties in the forcing factors at these locations. Communicating the range of plausible futures and the uncertainties to decision makers in a proper way is a key problem that we as scientists too often tend to ignore.
DE: 0726 Ice sheets
DE: 1240 Satellite geodesy: results (6929, 7215, 7230, 7240)
DE: 1630 Impacts of global change (1225)
DE: 1641 Sea level change (1222, 1225, 4556)
SC: Geodesy [G]
MN: 2007 Fall Meeting

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