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Possible impacts of climate change in coastal zones


Shambhu Singh
DIRECTOR, NCMRWF
department of science and technology
government of India, India
[email protected]


K J Ramesh
Scientist F
Disaster Mitigation Modelling Cell
DST(NCMRWF), India
[email protected]

For India, climate change could represent an additional stress on ecological and socio-economic systems that are already facing tremendous pressures due to rapid urbanization, industrialization and economic development. With its huge and growing population, with a 7500 km long densely populated (DOD, 2002) and low-lying coastline, and an economy that is closely tied to its natural resource base, India is considerably vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Some projections for India suggest that for an estimated 100 cm sea-level rise, there exists a possibility of about 7.1 millions of population exposed to the risk of land loss of about 5763km2 unless no adaptation measures are initiated.

At the interface between ocean and terrestrial resources, coastal ecosystems undergo stresses from competing multi-usage demands, while having to retain their functional diversity and resilience in the face of global environmental change. To enhance coastal resilience and facilitate adaptation, integrated management of coastal zones must take into account the multiple resource demand and variety of stakeholders, as well as natural variability. At the same time, adaptation strategies can alter the nature of the risk and change the socially differentiated nature of the vulnerability of populations living in vulnerable coastal zones. Response strategies that are based on tackling the risks from sea-level rise and tropical cyclones should essentially address issues like vulnerability reduction, equitable distribution and sustainable utilization of land-water-environmental resources, etc., leading to the enhanced quality of lives by insulating their livelihood incomes from the negative impacts of climate change.

Integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) is an iterative and evolutionary process for achieving sustainable development by developing and implementing a continuous management capability that can respond to changing conditions, including the effects of climate change that essentially is a cooperative effort on the part of coastal zone stakeholders. Sea-level rise and heavy rainfall events are projected with some confidence to increase with climate change; this increase, superimposed on existing coastal problems, would have major impacts, regardless of any change in the frequency or intensity of tropical storms.