Journal cover Journal topic
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 2347-2368, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
24 Jul 2012
Assessment of coastal vulnerability to climate change hazards at the regional scale: the case study of the North Adriatic Sea
S. Torresan1, A. Critto1,2, J. Rizzi1,2, and A. Marcomini2 1Centro Euro-Mediterraneo per i Cambiamenti Climatici (CMCC), Impacts on Soil and Coast Division, Via Augusto Imperatore 16, 73100 Lecce, Italy
2Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics, University Ca' Foscari Venice, Calle Larga S. Marta 2137, 30123 Venice, Italy
Abstract. Sea level rise, changes in storms and wave climate as a consequence of global climate change are expected to increase the size and magnitude of flooded and eroding coastal areas, thus having profound impacts on coastal communities and ecosystems. River deltas, beaches, estuaries and lagoons are considered particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, which should be studied at the regional/local scale. This paper presents a regional vulnerability assessment (RVA) methodology developed to analyse site-specific spatial information on coastal vulnerability to the envisaged effects of global climate change, and assist coastal communities in operational coastal management and conservation. The main aim of the RVA is to identify key vulnerable receptors (i.e. natural and human ecosystems) in the considered region and localize vulnerable hot spot areas, which could be considered as homogeneous geographic sites for the definition of adaptation strategies. The application of the RVA methodology is based on a heterogeneous subset of bio-geophysical and socio-economic vulnerability indicators (e.g. coastal topography, geomorphology, presence and distribution of vegetation cover, location of artificial protection), which are a measure of the potential harm from a range of climate-related impacts (e.g. sea level rise inundation, storm surge flooding, coastal erosion). Based on a system of numerical weights and scores, the RVA provides relative vulnerability maps that allow to prioritize more vulnerable areas and targets of different climate-related impacts in the examined region and to support the identification of suitable areas for human settlements, infrastructures and economic activities, providing a basis for coastal zoning and land use planning. The implementation, performance and results of the methodology for the coastal area of the North Adriatic Sea (Italy) are fully described in the paper.

Citation: Torresan, S., Critto, A., Rizzi, J., and Marcomini, A.: Assessment of coastal vulnerability to climate change hazards at the regional scale: the case study of the North Adriatic Sea, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 2347-2368,, 2012.
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