Skip to main content

Future response of global coastal wetlands to sea-level rise.

Schuerch, M., Spencer, T., Temmerman, S., Kirwin, M., Wolff, C., Lincke, D., McOwen, C., Pickering, M., Reef, R., Vafeidis, A., Hinkel, J., Nicholls, R. and Brown, S., 2018. Future response of global coastal wetlands to sea-level rise. Nature, 561, 231 - 234.

Full text available as:

Accepted_manuscript_25.07.18.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.


DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0476-5


The response of coastal wetlands to sea-level rise during the twenty-first century remains uncertain. Global-scale projections suggest that between 20 and 90 per cent (for low and high sea-level rise scenarios, respectively) of the present-day coastal wetland area will be lost, which will in turn result in the loss of biodiversity and highly valued ecosystem services. These projections do not necessarily take into account all essential geomorphological and socio-economic system feedbacks. Here we present an integrated global modelling approach that considers both the ability of coastal wetlands to build up vertically by sediment accretion, and the accommodation space, namely, the vertical and lateral space available for fine sediments to accumulate and be colonized by wetland vegetation. We use this approach to assess global-scale changes in coastal wetland area in response to global sea-level rise and anthropogenic coastal occupation during the twenty-first century. On the basis of our simulations, we find that, globally, rather than losses, wetland gains of up to 60 per cent of the current area are possible, if more than 37 per cent (our upper estimate for current accommodation space) of coastal wetlands have sufficient accommodation space, and sediment supply remains at present levels. In contrast to previous studies we project that until 2100, the loss of global coastal wetland area will range between 0 and 30 per cent, assuming no further accommodation space in addition to current levels. Our simulations suggest that the resilience of global wetlands is primarily driven by the availability of accommodation space, which is strongly influenced by the building of anthropogenic infrastructure in the coastal zone and such infrastructure is expected to change over the twenty-first century. Rather than being an inevitable consequence of global sea-level rise, our findings indicate that large-scale loss of coastal wetlands might be avoidable, if sufficient additional accommodation space can be created through careful nature-based adaptation solutions to coastal management.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:wetland ; sea-level rise
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:31232
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:14 Sep 2018 14:29
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:12


Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...
Repository Staff Only -