Risks, natural coastal defenses and the Economics of Climate Adaptation in the Gulf Coast

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Borja GONZALEZ Reguero1, Michael Beck1, David Bresch2, Juliano Calil1 and Imen Meliane3, (1)University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA, United States, (2)Zurich Institute of Technology, zurich, Switzerland, (3)The Nature Conservancy, Washington, WA, United States
Coastal Development and Climate Change are rapidly altering the world’s coastal zones, dramatically increasing risks of catastrophic damage to coastal communities. Natural defenses are increasingly cited as an element of the solution. However, their use and widespread acceptance are still under debate and there are limited data on their cost effectiveness. Our goal is to provide comparable cost effectiveness estimates of ‘green’ and ‘gray’ approaches for risk reduction. We follow the Economics of Climate Adaptation (ECA) methodology and further integrates nature-based solutions in to this approach. We propose an ecosystem based risk mitigation perspective and integrate it into local decision making and risk models. A pilot case has been developed for the US Gulf Coast with special emphasis on (1) nature based measures, (2) an open-knowledge approach and (3) on a spatially explicit analyses. We examine potential damage to residential and commercial properties, infrastructure and assets. Our specific goals were to:
  • Assess risks from hurricanes in the Gulf Coast in an holistic manner from hazards to damages and possible solutions
  • Define how cost- effective ecosystems are for coastal defense in the Gulf Coast
  • Quantify how and where natural solutions may reduce risks accounting for coastal engineering indicators
  • Analyze and compare different scenarios including additional risks from climate change such as sea-level rise, potential coastal policy responses and economic growth