Climatic Change

, Volume 134, Issue 3, pp 403–416 | Cite as

Spatial variations of sea-level rise and impacts: An application of DIVA

  • Sally BrownEmail author
  • Robert J Nicholls
  • Jason A Lowe
  • Jochen Hinkel


Due to complexities of creating sea-level rise scenarios, impacts of climate-induced sea-level rise are often produced from a limited number of models assuming a global uniform rise in sea level. A greater number of models, including those with a pattern reflecting regional variations would help to assure reliability and a range of projections, indicating where models agree and disagree. This paper determines how nine new patterned-scaled sea-level rise scenarios (plus the uniform and patterned ensemble mean rises) influence global and regional coastal impacts (wetland loss, dry land loss due to erosion and the expected number of people flooded per year by extreme sea levels). The DIVA coastal impacts model was used under an A1B scenario, and assumed defences were not upgraded as conditions evolved. For seven out of nine climate models, impacts occurred at a proportional rate to global sea-level rise. For the remaining two models, higher than average rise in sea level was projected in northern latitudes or around populated coasts thus skewing global impact projections compared with the ensemble global mean. Regional variability in impacts were compared using the ensemble mean uniform and patterned scenarios: The largest relative difference in impacts occurred around the Mediterranean coast, and the largest absolute differences around low-lying populated coasts, such as south, south-east and east Asia. Uniform projections of sea-level rise impacts remain a useful method to determine global impacts, but improved regional scale models of sea-level rise, particularly around semi-enclosed seas and densely populated low-lying coasts will provide improved regional impact projections and a characterisation of their uncertainties.


Wetland Loss Land Loss Lower Rise Extreme Water Level Coastal Wetland Loss 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Commonwealth of Independent States


Coupled Model Intercomparison Project.


Dynamic Interactive Vulnerability Assessment


Atmosphere–ocean General Circulation Model


Fourth Assessment Report


Aggregated Scale Morphological Interaction between a Tidal basin and the Adjacent coast


Glacial isostatic adjustment


Global Land One km Base Elevation project

Supplementary material

10584_2013_925_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (177 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 177 kb)


  1. Burkett V, Kusler J (2000) Climate change: Potential impacts and interactions in wetlands of the United States. J Am Waterw Resour Assoc 32(2):313–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), Columbia University, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), World Resources Institute (WRI) (2000) Gridded Population of the World (GPW), Version 2. Palisades. CIESIN, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Gregory J, Huybrechts P (2006) Ice-sheet contributions to future sea-level change. Philos Trans R Soc Lond A 364:1709–1731. doi: CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Hinkel J, Lincke D, Vafeidis AT, Perrette M, Nicholls RJ, Tol RSJ, Marzeion B, Fettweis X, Levermann A (2013a) Impact of future sea-level rise of global risk coastal floods. Submitted to Proc Natl Acad Sci USA.Google Scholar
  5. Hinkel J, Nicholls RJ, Tol RSJ, Boot G, Vafeidis A, Wang Z, Hamilton J, Klein R (2013b) A global analysis of erosion of sandy beaches and sea-level rise: An application of DIVA. Accepted by Glob Planet ChangeGoogle Scholar
  6. Hinkel J, Klein RJT (2009) Integrating knowledge to assess coastal vulnerability to sea-level rise: The development of the DIVA tool. Glob Environ Change 19:384–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Jongman B, Ward PJ, Aerts JCJH (2012) Global exposure to river and coastal flooding: Long term trends and changes. Glob Env Change 22(4):823–835. doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2012.07.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Lowe JA, Gregory JM (2006) Understanding projections of sea level rise in a Hadley Centre coupled climate model. J Geophys Res, C, Oceans 111(C11):1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Manning MR, Edmonds J, Emori S, Grubler A, Hibbard K, Joos F, Kainuma M, Keeling RF, Kram T, Manning AC, Meinshausen M, Moss R, Nakicenovic N, Riahi K, Rose SK, Smith S, Swart R, van Vuuren DP (2010) Misreprentation of the IPCC CO2 emission scenarios. Nature Geosci 3(6):376–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. McFadden L, Spencer T, Nicholls RJ (2007) Broad-scale modelling of coastal wetlands: what is required? Hydrobiolgica 577:5–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Meehl GA, Stocker TF, Collins WD, Friedlingstein P, Gaye AT, Gregory JM, Kitoh A, Knutti R, Murphy JM, Noda A, Raper SCB, Watterson IG, Weaver AJ, Zhao Z-C (2007) Global climate projections. In: Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M et al (eds) Climate change 2007: The physical science basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp 433–497Google Scholar
  12. Nakicenovic N, Swart R (2000) Emissions scenarios. Special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  13. Nicholls RJ (2004) Coastal flooding and wetland loss in the 21st century: Changes under the SRES climate and socio-economic scenarios. Glob Environ Change 14(1):69–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Nicholls RJ, Cazenave A (2010) Sea-level rise and its impact on coastal zones. Science 328(5985):1717–1520. doi: 10.1110.1126/science.1185782 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Nicholls RJ, Wong PP, Burkett VR, Codignotto JO, Hay JE, McLean RF, Ragoonaden S, Woodroffe CD (2007) Coastal systems and low-lying areas. In: Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, van der Linden PJ, Hanson CE (eds) Climate change 2007: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp 315–357Google Scholar
  16. Nicholls RJ, Brown S, Hanson S, Hinkel J (2010) Economics of coastal zone adaptation to climate change. The World Bank, Washington, USA. Accessed July 2013
  17. Nicholls RJ, Marinova N, Lowe JA, Brown S, Vellinga P, de Gusmão D, Hinkel J, Tol RSJ (2011) Sea-level rise and its possible impacts given a ‘beyond 4°C world’ in the twenty-first century. Philos Trans R Soc A 369:161–181. doi: 10.1098/rsta.2010.0291 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Pardaens AK, Lowe JA, Brown S, Nicholls RJ, de Gusmão D (2011) Sea-level rise and impacts projections under a future scenario with large greenhouse gas emission reductions. Geophys Res Lett 38:L12604. doi: 10.11029/12011GL047678 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Peltier WR (2000a) Global glacial isostatic adjustment and modern instrumental records of relative sea level history. In: Douglas BC, Kearny MS, Leatherman SP (eds) Sea level rise; history and consequences. Academic Press, San Diego, pp 65–95Google Scholar
  20. Peltier WR (2000b) Ice4g (vm2) glacial isostatic adjustment corrections. In: Douglas BC, Kearny MS, Leatherman SP (eds) Sea level rise; history and consequences. Academic Press, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  21. Radić V, Hock R (2011) Regionally differentiated contribution of mountain glaciers and ice caps to future sea-level rise. Nature Geosci 4:91–94. doi: 10.1038/ngeo1052 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Raper SCB, Cubasch U (1996) Emulation of the results from a coupled general circulation model using a simple climate model. Geophys Res Lett 23:1107–1110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Vafeidis AT, Nicholls RJ, McFadden L, Tol RSJ, Hinkel J, Spencer T, Grashoff PS, Boot G, Klein R (2008) A new global coastal database for impact and vulnerability analysis to sea-level rise. J Coast Res 24:917–924. doi: 10.2112/06-0725.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. van Goor M, Zitman T, Wang Z, Stive M (2003) Impact of sea-level rise on the morphological equilibrium state of tidal inlets. Marin Geol 202:211–227. doi: 10.1016/S0025-3227(03)00262–7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. van Vuuren DP, Lucas PL, Hilderink H (2007) Downscaling drivers of global environmental change: Enabling use of global SRES scenarios at the national and grid scales. Glob Environ Change 17:114–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Wöppelmann G, Marcos M (2012) Coastal sea level rise in southern Europe and the non climate contribution of vertical land motion. J Geophys Res: Oceans 117:C01007. doi: 10.1029/2011JC007469
  27. Zhang K, Douglas B, Leatherman S (2004) Global warming and coastal erosion. Clim Change 64:41–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sally Brown
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert J Nicholls
    • 1
  • Jason A Lowe
    • 2
  • Jochen Hinkel
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Faculty of Engineering and the Environment and Tyndall Centre for Climate Change ResearchUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  2. 2.Department of Meteorology, University of ReadingMet Office Hadley Centre (Reading Unit)Earley Gate, P.O. Box 243, ReadingUK
  3. 3.Adaptation and Social LearningGlobal Climate Forum e.V. (GCF)BerlinGermany
  4. 4.Transdisciplinary Concepts and MethodsPotsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)PotsdamGermany

Personalised recommendations