Can 3D Visualizations Really Convince Small Island Coastal Communities About the True Risks of Sea Level Rise?

  • Attard Claudia
  • Galdies CharlesEmail author
  • Conrad Elisabeth
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


Inundation due to sea level rise is among the most expensive and deadly coastal hazards that can gradually impact small island coastal communities. The intent of this research is to look at ways how coastal island communities can be convincingly informed about the impacts of sea level rise; an understanding of these potential impacts is critical for people to engage in related adaptation actions. Effective climate communication may require more than just using language; the use of virtual reality, 3D spatial technology, and digital elevation models can prove equally or even more powerful to enable the portrayal of risks and dangers posed by climate change. Using a case study in Malta, we mapped impacts of the effects of sea-level rise on valuable real estate, critical public infrastructure, and natural resources. Coastal communities were then asked for their views on sea level rise after looking at precise but different modes of visualization of the same impact at specific coastal locations. Results showed a general preference for 3D over 2D visualizations, for various reasons, including a perception that these better reflect reality; 3D visualisations were also shown to be more effective in convincing respondents about the significance of sea level rise impacts. The results of this study provide valuable insights for local authorities to understand what may be needed to communicate messages related to climate change in an effective manner, ultimately contributing to enhancement of coastal resilience and climate adaptation.


Climate change Sea level rise 2D & 3D visualisations Public perception Malta Small island states 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Attard Claudia
    • 1
  • Galdies Charles
    • 1
    Email author
  • Conrad Elisabeth
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Earth SystemsUniversity of MaltaMsidaMalta

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