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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 13, issue 5 | Copyright
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 13, 1209-1227, 2013
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-13-1209-2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 16 May 2013

Research article | 16 May 2013

An AHP-derived method for mapping the physical vulnerability of coastal areas at regional scales

G. Le Cozannet1, M. Garcin1, T. Bulteau1, C. Mirgon1, M. L. Yates*,1, M. Méndez**,1,2, A. Baills1, D. Idier1, and C. Oliveros1 G. Le Cozannet et al.
  • 1BRGM, 3 Avenue Claude Guillemin Cedex 2, BP 6009, 45060 Orléans, France
  • 2University Diderot-Sorbonne Paris, 75205 Paris Cedex 13, France
  • *now at: Université Paris-Est, Laboratoire d'Hydraulique Saint-Venant, ENPC, EDF R&D, CETMEF, 6 quai Watier, BP 49, 78401 Chatou, France
  • **now at: University Rafael Landivar de Guatemala, Institute of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment, IARNA/URL, Vista Hermosa 3, Guatemala

Abstract. Assessing coastal vulnerability to climate change at regional scales is now mandatory in France since the adoption of recent laws to support adaptation to climate change. However, there is presently no commonly recognised method to assess accurately how sea level rise will modify coastal processes in the coming decades. Therefore, many assessments of the physical component of coastal vulnerability are presently based on a combined use of data (e.g. digital elevation models, historical shoreline and coastal geomorphology datasets), simple models and expert opinion. In this study, we assess the applicability and usefulness of a multi-criteria decision-mapping method (the analytical hierarchy process, AHP) to map physical coastal vulnerability to erosion and flooding in a structured way. We apply the method in two regions of France: the coastal zones of Languedoc-Roussillon (north-western Mediterranean, France) and the island of La Réunion (south-western Indian Ocean), notably using the regional geological maps. As expected, the results show not only the greater vulnerability of sand spits, estuaries and low-lying areas near to coastal lagoons in both regions, but also that of a thin strip of erodible cliffs exposed to waves in La Réunion. Despite gaps in knowledge and data, the method is found to provide a flexible and transportable framework to represent and aggregate existing knowledge and to support long-term coastal zone planning through the integration of such studies into existing adaptation schemes.

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