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The vulnerability of Caribbean coastal tourism to scenarios of climate change related sea level rise


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Sea level rise (SLR) is considered a growing, certain and prominent consequence of anthropogenic climate change. Despite the high value of tourism properties and economic activity in the coastal zone, the tourism sector is largely absent from the SLR literature. This study created a geo-referenced database of 906 major coastal resort properties in 19 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to assess their potential risk to a scenario of one-metre SLR. An estimated 266 (29%) resort properties would be partially or fully inundated by one-metre SLR; between 440 (49%) and 546 (60%) of resort properties would be at risk of beach erosion damage associated with the same SLR scenario. In addition, many resorts would experience significant losses of beach area prior to resort property loss. The vulnerability and the adaptive capacity of individual coastal tourism properties and destination communities is argued to differ substantially. Losses of over 50% of coastal properties are likely in five countries, three of which are highly dependent on tourism. These differentials would transform the competitive position and sustainability of coastal tourism destinations in the region, with important implications for property values, potential tourism revenues, insurance costs, destination marketing, as well as local and national economies.
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The vulnerability of Caribbean coastal
tourism to scenarios of climate change
related sea level rise
Daniel Scott a , Murray Charles Simpson b & Ryan Sim a
a Department of Geography and Environmental Management,
University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
b Oxford University Centre for the Environment, University of
Oxford, Dyson Perrins Building, South Parks Rd., Oxford, OX1 3QY,
Version of record first published: 06 Jul 2012.
To cite this article: Daniel Scott , Murray Charles Simpson & Ryan Sim (2012): The vulnerability
of Caribbean coastal tourism to scenarios of climate change related sea level rise, Journal of
Sustainable Tourism, 20:6, 883-898
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Journal of Sustainable Tourism
Vol. 20, No. 6, July 2012, 883–898
The vulnerability of Caribbean coastal tourism to scenarios
of climate change related sea level rise
Daniel Scotta, Murray Charles Simpsonband Ryan Sima
aDepartment of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo, Ontario,
Canada; bOxford University Centre for the Environment, University of Oxford, Dyson Perrins
Building, South Parks Rd., Oxford, OX1 3QY, UK
(Received 12 March 2012; final version received 25 May 2012)
Sea level rise (SLR) is considered a growing, certain and prominent consequence of an-
thropogenic climate change. Despite the high value of tourism properties and economic
activity in the coastal zone, the tourism sector is largely absent from the SLR literature.
This study created a geo-referenced database of 906 major coastal resort properties in 19
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to assess their potential risk to a scenario
of one-metre SLR. An estimated 266 (29%) resort properties would be partially or fully
inundated by one-metre SLR; between 440 (49%) and 546 (60%) of resort properties
would be at risk of beach erosion damage associated with the same SLR scenario. In
addition, many resorts would experience significant losses of beach area prior to resort
property loss. The vulnerability and the adaptive capacity of individual coastal tourism
properties and destination communities is argued to differ substantially. Losses of over
50% of coastal properties are likely in five countries, three of which are highly de-
pendent on tourism. These differentials would transform the competitive position and
sustainability of coastal tourism destinations in the region, with important implications
for property values, potential tourism revenues, insurance costs, destination marketing,
as well as local and national economies.
Keywords: climate change; sea level rise; coastal tourism; Caribbean; adaptation;
geographic information system
From the ancient Roman Empire, to medical tourism in the middle ages, to the emer-
gence of all-inclusive coastal resorts in the twentieth century, the seaside holds a special
place in the development of tourism. Today, coastal tourism is considered by many to be
the largest segment of the global tourism industry (Hall, 2001; Honey & Krantz, 2007).
The socioeconomic impacts of mass coastal tourism are varied and typically highly uneven
within coastal communities. This is often more pronounced in developing countries where
coastal tourism may dominate the local economy, and therefore can be far more culturally
invasive (Honey & Krantz, 2007; Jennings, 2004; Stonich, 2000). The environmental im-
pacts of unplanned coastal tourism development have been well documented and include
the destruction of coastal habitat (mangroves, seagrass beds, wetlands) and diminished
biodiversity, over consumption and draw down of freshwater aquifers, water pollution and
subsequent impacts on marine species and coral reefs, increased erosion and over-fishing
Corresponding author. Email:
ISSN 0966-9582 print / ISSN 1747-7646 online
2012 Taylor & Francis
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884 D. Scott et al.
(Duval, 2004; Hall, 2001; Jennings, 2004). Nonetheless, after 60 years of mass sun, sand
and sea (3S) tourism development, growth in coastal tourism remains strong in many re-
gional markets, with emerging economy markets and trends to “residential tourism”, which
integrates beach resorts with vacation homes and condos, important contemporary drivers
of growth (Honey & Krantz, 2007).
Coastal environments are among the most physically dynamic on Earth, yet there exists
a tremendous stability bias with respect to coastal development. Coasts are influenced
by short-term extreme storm events that can alter shore areas in the matter of hours
as well as long-term gradual processes, such as changes in sea level. Importantly, both
of these processes are projected to accelerate in the twenty-first century as a result of
anthropogenic climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
(IPCC, 2012; Solomon et al., 2007) concluded that there has been a discernible human
influence on several aspects of climate, including air and ocean surface temperatures,
precipitation patterns (distribution and intensity), wind patterns and the intensity of some
extreme storm events (such as extra-tropical storm tracks in both hemispheres). Because
of limited observing capabilities in the past, the IPCC (2012) has low confidence in any
observed long-term increases in tropical cyclone activity (i.e. intensity, frequency, duration).
However, it projects that average tropical cyclone maximum wind speed is likely to increase
in the decades ahead, while the global frequency of tropical cyclones is likely to remain
essentially unchanged (IPCC, 2012). Increased mean sea level rise (SLR) coupled with the
likely increase in tropical cyclone maximum wind speed, would be a particularly salient
issue for tropical small island states.
The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) reported that the mean global sea surface
rose by 1.8 mm/year over the period 1961–1993 and by 3.1 mm/year between 1993 and 2003
(Solomon et al., 2007) and that anthropogenic climate change contributed to this accelera-
tion (Nicholls et al., 2007). More recent measurements indicate the rate of SLR has reached
3.4 mm/year between 1995 and 2010, far higher than the average rate of 0.1–0.2 mm/year
increase recorded by geological data over the last 3000 years (Rahmstorf, 2010).
The IPCC projected a global SLR of 0.18–0.59 m from 1990 to 2100 (Soloman et al.,
2007). These projections of future SLR assumed a near-zero net contribution from the
Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets because of uncertainty about future ice mass changes
in these regions. SLR projections have been vigorously discussed since the IPCC AR4 in
2007. Accumulating evidence suggests that both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets
have been losing mass at an accelerating rate over the past two decades (Rignot, Koppes,
& Velicogna, 2010), leading a number of experts to criticize the IPCC’s SLR projections
as highly conservative (Hansen, 2007; Oppenheimer, O’Neill, Webster, & Agrawala, 2007;
Pfeffer, Harper, & O’Neel, 2008).
Table 1 provides a summary of the most recent projections of global SLR over the
twenty-first century and compares these newer studies to the IPCC AR4 projections and the
continuation of current trends. Recent studies project the rate of global SLR will continue to
accelerate in the decades ahead and that the total SLR by the end of the century could be as
much as 1.5–2 m above levels of the late twentieth century (Grinstead, Moore, & Jevrejeva,
2009; Horton et al., 2008; Jevrejeva, Moore, Grinsted, & Woodworth, 2008; Vermeer &
Rahmstorf, 2009). That these upper estimates would occur is highly unlikely, as are the
lower estimated range, however the central estimates of four of the five most recent studies
exceed 1 m SLR by the end of the twenty-first century.
Importantly, due to gravitational and geological factors, the rate of SLR is not expected
to be uniform globally: in the Caribbean it is projected to exceed the worldwide average
SLR by a factor of 1.2–1.4 (Tamisiae & Mitrovica, 2011).
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Journal of Sustainable Tourism 885
Table 1. Scenarios of global sea level rise in the twenty-first century.
2050Low range Central estimate High range
Continuation of current trend
(3.4 mm/year)
13.6 cm 30.6 cm
IPCC (Solomon et al., 2007) 8.9–23.8 cm 18 cm 59 cm
Rahmstorf (2007) 17–32 cm 50 cm 90 cm 140 cm
Horton et al. (2008) 30 cm 100 cm
Vermeer and Rahmstorf (2009) 40 cm 75 cm 124 cm 180 cm
Grinstead et al. (2009) 40 cm 125 cm 215 cm
Jevrejeva et al. (2008) 60 cm 120 cm 175 cm
Where not specified, interpreted from original sources.
Although the exact magnitude of future global SLR remains uncertain, it is considered
to be one of the most certain and most prominent consequences of anthropogenic climate
change (Solomon et al., 2007). Consequently, a considerable literature has developed over
the last 20 years that examines the potential impacts of SLR on ecosystems and society,
including the number of vulnerable people, economic implications and even the physical
existence of some sovereign nations (Nicholls et al., 2007; Nicholls et al., 2011). Impor-
tantly, none of the regional and global scale studies of the impacts of SLR have specifically
examined potential damage to the tourism sector or compared the relative vulnerability of
coastal tourism to other economic sectors. The absence of tourism studies, despite the high
value of tourism properties and economic activity in the coastal zone, may be explained
by the lack of readily available geospatial data sets of coastal tourism assets (e.g. resorts,
beaches, transport infrastructure) at the regional or global scale.
With coastal tourism identified as the largest tourism segment globally and massive
continuing investment in coastal tourism properties, a number of scholars have observed
that remarkably little analysis of the implications of SLR for the tourism sector has been
undertaken (Anning, Dominey-Howes, & Withycombe, 2009; Buckley, 2008; G ¨
ossling &
Hall, 2006; Honey & Krantz, 2007; Moreno & Becken, 2009; Phillips & Jones, 2006;
Scott et al., 2008; Weaver, 2011). Buckley (2008, pp. 72–73) noted, “Most coastal tourism
destinations ... seem to have remained remarkably blas´
e about rising sea levels, even
though these are one of the best-documented aspects of global change”.
This paper contributes to addressing this important knowledge gap in the rapidly de-
veloping literature on climate change and sustainable tourism by assessing the potential
impact of projected SLR on the coastal tourism infrastructure of 19 countries within the
Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The Caribbean was identified as a priority for anal-
ysis of the vulnerability of coastal tourism to SLR for several reasons. The Caribbean
has the most tourism-intensive economy (i.e. tourism represents the greatest proportion of
the regional economy) among the 12 regions ranked by the WTTC (2011), where tourism
represents 14% of GDP, 13% of employment (2.2 million jobs), 12% of investment and
17% of exports. The Caribbean has also been repeatedly ranked as one of the major tourism
regions most vulnerable to climate change (Deutsche Bank Research, 2008; Hall, 2008;
Scott et al., 2008), in part due to the continued dominance of coastal tourism in the region
(Cameron & Gatewood, 2008; Duval, 2004). More broadly, many of the Caribbean coun-
tries also exemplify the characteristics that are thought to make Small Island Developing
States (SIDS) particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including: relative
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886 D. Scott et al.
isolation, small land masses, concentrations of population and infrastructure in coastal ar-
eas, a limited economic base and dependency on natural resources, combined with limited
financial, technical and institutional capacity for adaptation (IPCC, 2007). Finally, a lack
of detailed SLR impact analyses in the region had been noted in the literature (Dasgupta,
Laplante, Meisner, Wheeler, & Yan, 2008).
The paper begins with an overview of SLR scenarios for the twenty-first century
and a review of the extant literature on SLR and tourism. The subsequent section sets
out the procedures used to develop a regional inventory of major coastal tourism resort
infrastructure and integrate it into a Geographic Information System (GIS) with a satellite-
based Digital Elevation Model. The sea level scenarios and methods for estimating the
inundation and erosion impacts of SLR are also outlined. The regional- and country-specific
flooding and erosion impacts associated with various levels of SLR are then described. The
paper concludes with discussion of adaptation strategies, including the special challenges
for coastal tourism, and associated policy and planning implications.
Sea level rise and tourism
The impacts of SLR on coastal areas are many, but those most pertinent to tourism include:
inundation of coastal lands, erosion and loss of coastal habitat and beach area through
the process of “coastal squeeze” (where the coastal margin is prevented from landward
migration by a fixed boundary such as a sea wall or road), impeded drainage and increased
risk of riverine flooding, salinity intrusion into freshwater supplies and higher water tables
which can adversely affect the stability of foundations of coastal infrastructure.
While infrastructure damage is the paramount SLR risk to coastal tourism, the loss of
beach resources represents a second significant impact that has already begun. Widespread
beach erosion, with 70% of the world’s monitored beaches observed to be receding (Bird,
1985), has been attributed to the process of beaches repositioning themselves further inland
in response to ongoing SLR. SLR trends in the Caribbean have roughly paralleled global
trends over the last 30 years (Nicholls & Cazenave, 2010) and Cambers (2009) argues
that this was undoubtedly a causative factor contributing the observed erosion at a large
majority of 113 monitored beaches in eight Caribbean countries (an average of 0.5 m/year
between 1985 and 2000).
The implications of SLR for the future of coastal tourism development were first
discussed more than 20 years ago by Gable (1987, 1990) and Leatherman (1989). More
recent publications have further examined the potential policy and planning responses to
SLR and linkages to coastal zone management (Hamilton, 2007; Moreno & Becken, 2009;
Phillips & Jones, 2006; Scott et al., 2008), while others have focused on estimating the
potential impacts of SLR on tourism infrastructure and coastal resources, the potential
demand side response of tourists to SLR impacts as well as adaptation responses. These
two main focal themes are briefly reviewed.
The potential impacts of SLR on tourism infrastructure and coastal resources (mainly
beaches) have been examined in a number of locations. In the World Heritage Site of
Venice, Italy, a fivefold increase in flooding events in San Marco square occurred between
1900 and 1990 (from 7 to 40 times per year) and it was estimated that with a further 0.3 m
SLR, flooding events would increase to 360 days of the year (Francia & Juhasz, 1993).
Similarly, large areas of the historical city of Alexandria, Egypt were found to be at risk to a
0.5 m SLR, including a series of high-value cultural tourism sites and beach areas (El-Raey,
Dewindar, & El-Hattab, 1999). On the Island of Martinique, Schleupner (2008) found that
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Journal of Sustainable Tourism 887
a large majority of tourist beaches (83%) would be affected by coastal flooding and up to
62% of coastal infrastructure (tourism and nontourism) would be at risk to damage by SLR
induced erosion. In Prince Edward Island, Canada, flooding and erosion associated with sea
levels projected by the IPCC for the later decades of the twenty-first century were estimated
to put over 300 designated heritage properties (key tourism attractions and, in some cases,
accommodation) and nearly 50% of other coastal tourism properties at risk (Environment
Canada, 2002).
A series of studies in the United States have found substantial potential economic
impacts associated with SLR on coastal tourism and related recreation properties. Stanton
and Ackerman (2007) estimated that with a 0.68 m SLR, impacts to the tourism sector
in Florida would include half of existing beaches, 74 airports, 1362 hotels–motels and
over 19,000 historic structures. Resultant losses in tourism properties and visitation were
estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars by 2050. A study of SLR impacts on tourism
and coastal property at five major tourism beach areas in California estimated that a 1.4 m
SLR could cause over US $2 billion in damage by 2100 (King, McGregor, & Whittett,
2011). In North Carolina, a 46 cm rise in sea level would put US $1.2 billion worth of
residential property (mostly vacation home properties) at risk in four counties alone and
cause substantial losses in recreation benefits from reduced opportunities for beach trips
(US $3.5 billion discounted at a 2% rate) and fishing trips (US $430 million using a 2%
discount rate) (Bin, Dumas, Poulter, & Whitehead, 2007).
Relatively few studies have examined the potential impact of beach loss on coastal
tourism demand. In Europe, an early study by Braun et al. (1999) used the combined
scenarios of temperature and precipitation changes with SLR and beach loss to examine the
impact on the likelihood of traveling to the Baltic and North Sea coasts of Germany. With
increased temperatures the likelihood of choosing the North German coast for a holiday was
only slightly higher than the scenario where climate change impacts on the Mediterranean
were very limited. In scenarios where some potential negative impacts on the German coasts
occurred (e.g. beach erosion, increased frequency of rain), the likelihood of visiting was
substantially lower, even when possible adaptations were included (e.g. greater setbacks
of tourism infrastructure, more diversified indoor activities). Similar scenarios of climatic
and environmental change on the East Anglian coast of the United Kingdom by Coombes
and Jones (2010) resulted in minor reductions in visitation (less than 1%) from beach loss
(though beach loss was presented as 13–16 m to beaches with widths of over 250 m), but
large gains through warmer temperatures (24–26%).
In the Caribbean, a survey of tourists on the islands of Barbados and Bonaire found that
under a severe scenario where “beaches largely disappeared”, 77% would be unwilling to
return to the 3S destination of Barbados for the same price, while 43% would be unwilling
to return to Bonaire, which is known as a dive tourism destination and where beaches are
not the primary tourism asset (Uyarra et al., 2005). Buzinde, Manuel-Navarrete, Kerstetter,
and Redclift (2010a) and Buzinde, Manuel-Navarrete, Yoo, and Morais (2010b) used qual-
itative approaches (tourist interviews and online tourist comments about destinations and
trip experiences) to examine tourist perceptions of beach erosion and attempts to restore the
beach in the Playacar, Mexico area. Tourists were classified into three response categories:
positive, negative and reconciliatory. Those with a positive view of the situation largely
focused on the additional recreational opportunities provided by the erosion control struc-
tures in the water (i.e. large sand filled geotextile bags). Those with negative reactions were
often unaware of the severely eroded beaches and had expected pristine, extensive beaches
portrayed in tourism marketing images. This discrepancy between promoted images and
reality left them feeling deceived. The reconciliatory group also viewed the beach erosion
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888 D. Scott et al.
control measures as aesthetically unpleasant but understood they were part of ongoing work
to restore the beach through beach nourishment. Some of these tourists appeared aware of
the degraded condition of the beach before arrival and therefore did not have a sense of
misrepresentation by tourism operators. It is unclear what proportion each group repre-
sented or how the perceptions varied among specific market segments, which is important
in order to understand the potential impact on destination reputation and future demand.
It is also unclear as to the role prior knowledge of the degraded state of the beaches or
price discounts played in the varied interpretations of these three groups or their respective
intentions to return to this destination at the same price or at discounted prices.
Studies of adaptive responses to SLR in tourism destinations are even more limited. An
early study by Leatherman (1989) examined the costs of beach nourishment to stabilize
major recreational beaches in 21 coastal states in the United States. The costs through to
2060 were estimated as between US $6.5 billion (1990 dollars) under a 0.32 m SLR scenario
and $20.4 billion (1990 dollars) under a 0.95 m scenario. The estimated costs of beach
nourishment were far less than the damage associated with lost tourism and recreation
benefits and it was concluded that beach nourishment would be a primary adaptive by
communities and state tourism organizations.
Hamilton (2007) examined the implications of two adaptation approaches – levies and
beach nourishment – on the revenue of tourism accommodations in the coastal districts
of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. An increase in the length of levies would diminish the
aesthetics of the coastline, resulting in a reduction in the average price of accommodation
and loss of revenue of over 1.2 million per year, while beach nourishment would not
diminish accommodation revenues. The capital and maintenance costs of each adaptation
strategy were not compared.
Buckley’s (2008, p. 1) analysis of SLR adaptation by local government in Byron Bay,
Australia provides important insight into how misunderstandings or misrepresentations of
the likely effects of SLR were used by local government to “plac[e] severe and irrational
restrictions on development of residential and holiday accommodation” and “prevent beach-
front landowners from protecting their own properties against erosion”. In this situation
it is argued that climate change science was misused for political reasons and needlessly
damaged the destination’s tourism industry by driving investment to nearby communities
that did not adopt such restrictions on coastal properties. This case demonstrates the dan-
gers of speculation and lack of information on the magnitude and anticipated timelines of
potential impacts under varied SLR scenarios. This information is a prerequisite for coastal
management agencies, local governments, citizens and the tourism industry, to engage in
an informed dialogue on future coastal development and effective and equitable SLR adap-
tation options. Providing the 19 CARICOM countries some insight into these important
questions was the primary objective of the scenarios created in this study.
Inventory of Caribbean coastal tourism infrastructure
The first step in this analysis was to develop an inventory of coastal tourism proper-
ties in the 19 CARICOM countries included in the study (see Table 2). Although Smith
Travel Research Inc. (WTTC, 2011) maintains a database of hotels/resorts in the Caribbean
(n =2282 in 2011), the geospatial coordinates (latitude and longitude) and elevation of
each hotel/resort are not available in this comprehensive data set. Consequently, a number
of information sources were used to develop a geospatial data set of coastal resort and hotel
properties. Accommodation lists from national tourism websites in all 19 countries were
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Journal of Sustainable Tourism 889
Table 2. Country level SLR inundation and erosion impacts.
Tourism Number of Resort properties Resort properties Resort properties
CARICOM contribution coastal resort partially or fully inundated damaged by erosion damaged by erosion
member country to GDP (2011)bproperties by 1 m SLR (50 m scenario) (100 m scenario)
Anguillaa64% 60 38 35 42
Antigua & Barbuda 74% 99 10 34 44
Barbados 47% 75 6 42 50
Belize No data 44 32 42 44
British Virgin Islanda58% 14 8 5 6
Cayman Island a24% 63 11 15 25
Dominica 25% 17 0 5 6
Grenada 24% 45 5 14 19
Guyana No data 10 0 0 0
Haiti 6% 28 13 14 17
Jamaica 24% 105 8 34 52
Montserrat No data 1 0 0 0
St. Kitts & Nevis 28% 22 14 15 18
St. Lucia 46% 30 2 5 9
St. Vincent & the Grenadines 26% 21 2 8 16
Suriname No data 19 1 2 2
The Bahamas 18% 133 48 77 93
Trinidad & Tobago 7% 24 8 15 16
Turks & Caicos IslandaNo data 96 60 78 87
Total 906 266 (29%) 440 (49%) 546 (60%)
aAre associate members of CARICOM; bSource: WTTC (2011).
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890 D. Scott et al.
used to develop an initial inventory of potential resorts/hotels on the coast. The geographic
location and elevation of each coastal resort/hotel was then verified using Google Earth
Pro c
before including it in the data set.
Only resorts/hotels within 100 m of the coast and that had a minimum of 50 rooms/100
beds were included in the sample. Major inland resorts along with small coastal vil-
las/guesthouses were not included. A total of 906 coastal properties digitized by the research
team were included in the analysis. Table 2 identifies the number of properties included
from each country.
Construction of geographic information system and digital terrain model
A GIS was constructed in ArcGIS c
using the best available geospatial data. CARICOM
country boundaries were derived from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency’s World
Vector Shoreline data set (NOAA, 2010). All inland lakes and depressions not connected to
the sea by rivers or artificial channels, and thus not affected by SLR, were masked out using
geospatial data obtained from version 2 of the Global Self-consistent, Hierarchical, High-
resolution Shoreline Database (GHHS) (NOAA, 2010). Due to the small area of many of
the CARICOM nations, careful inspection for data completeness was performed. Approx-
imately 5000 unnamed country boundary polygons (mainly small islands) were inspected
and subsequently updated with corrected country identifications. After inspection, all of
the geospatial data was projected using the World Equal Area projection. The horizontal
datum used for the study was the World Geodetic System 1984. Latitude and longitude
geographic coordinates of the 906 tourism properties were presented in decimal degrees.
A continuous sink-filled digital terrain model (DTM) was created for the study area
using data from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer
(ASTER) Global Digital Elevation Model (GDEM), which was recently made available to
the research community by the United States National Aeronautics and Space Adminis-
tration (NASA) and the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). The
horizontal resolution of the GDEM is 30 m per pixel and the vertical resolution 1 m. As
a research grade data set, the GDEM data was examined for quality and anomalies. Some
anomalies in the data were observed along the coasts of Guyana and Suriname due to cloud
cover during collection and other anomalies (METI, NASA & USGS, 2009). Consequently,
we have lower confidence in the findings for these two nations (their 29 resorts/hotels
represent 3% of the sample size).
Coastal flooding and erosion impact scenarios
Table 1 summarizes the most recent global SLR projections over the twenty-first century.
With the central estimates of four of five of studies exceeding 1 m and the rate of SLR
in the Caribbean region projected to exceed the global average by a factor of 1.2–1.4
(Tamisiae & Mitrovica, 2011), the SLR scenario selected for this study was +1 m. While
this scenario does not represent the worse-case scenario in the literature (and other recent
government SLR vulnerability assessments in the United States and the Netherlands [e.g.
Delta Commission, 2008; Herberger, Cooley, Herrera, Gleick, & Moore, 2009] have ex-
plored scenarios greater than 1 m), it is closer to the central estimates of most of the studies
in Table 1 and provides greater comparability with the larger number of regional and global
SLR impact assessments that use arbitrary 1 m incremental scenarios (e.g. Dasgupta et al.,
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Journal of Sustainable Tourism 891
The potential inundation impacts associated with a 1 m SLR scenario were calculated
by overlaying the flooded contiguous coastal pixels in the DTM with the location of the
906 coastal resorts/hotels. A 100 m property buffer was applied to the central point of
each resort/hotel, and properties that contained a minimum of 10% of flooded pixels were
recorded as impacted by 1 m SLR.
Large areas of the Caribbean coast are highly susceptible to erosion, and beaches have
experienced accelerated erosion in recent decades (Cambers, 2009). Higher sea level is
expected to accelerate coastal erosion in these areas. The amount of coastal retreat due
to SLR can be estimated by several methods. In the absence of information necessary to
apply more advanced three-dimensional shoreline recession modeling techniques, which
was found to be almost universally the case throughout the Caribbean, two-dimensional
conceptual models like the Bruun Rule (Bruun, 1962) provide a means to complete a first-
order assessment of the implications of erosion related to SLR. Because of its simplicity,
the Bruun Rule has been widely applied in the study of erosion impacts resulting from SLR
(Aboudha & Woodroffe, 2006). It is based on the concept that an existing beach profile
will remain largely constant and as sea level increases, sediment required to maintain this
profile in deeper water is derived from erosion of the shore material. The readjustment of the
beach profile to an equilibrium state produces inland retreat of approximately 50–100 times
the vertical increase in sea level (i.e. for a 1 m SLR, 50–100 m of erosion is predicted).
It does not account for long-shore interactions. The Bruun Rule has been the subject of
some debate and criticism, but is still generally supported (Stive, 2004; Zhang, Douglas, &
Leatherman, 2004). This analysis examined the impacts of both the low and high range of
erosion response scenarios for the 906 coastal tourism properties.
Of the 906 major coastal resort properties inventoried for this analysis, 266 (29%) were
found to be at risk of partial or full inundation by a 1 m rise in sea level (Table 2). The
analysis revealed that the potential inundation impacts of 1 m SLR would not be uniform
among the CARICOM countries, with inundation losses of more than 50% of coastal
properties in five countries (Anguilla, Belize, British Virgin Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis
and Turks and Caicos Islands). The greatest vulnerability is in Anguilla, British Virgin
Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands, where the relative economic importance of tourism
to the national economy is also very high.
A far higher number of coastal resort properties were found to be vulnerable to coastal
erosionassociatedwitha1mSLR(Table2).Aconservative interpretation of the Bruun
Rule – a 50 m erosion scenario in coastlines with unconsolidated beach materials – projected
440 (49%) coastal resort properties would be damaged. Using the Bruun Rule as typically
applied in the literature – a 100 m erosion scenario associated with 1 m SLR – a total of 546
(60%) coastal resort properties were projected to be damaged. The countries with coastal
resort properties at greatest risk to SLR-induced erosion damage were Belize and Turks
and Caicos Islands, with over 80% of resort properties at risk in the 50 m erosion scenario.
A further eight countries have over 50% of resort properties at risk in the 100 m erosion
scenario (Anguilla, Barbados, Haiti, St. Kitts and Nevis, The Bahamas and Trinidad and
Beaches are critical assets for tourism in the Caribbean and a primary design goal of
coastal resorts is to maintain an aesthetic of undisrupted ocean views and unhindered access
to beach areas. A critical observation from this analysis is that a much greater proportion of
resort front beach assets would be degraded or lost to inundation and accelerated erosion,
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892 D. Scott et al.
Figure 1. “Coastal squeeze” of resort front beach asset.
as beaches would essentially have disappeared prior to damages to resort properties and
infrastructure. This process of lost beach area is identical to the “coastal squeeze” leading to
lost coastal wetlands and other habitats, where the coastal margin is squeezed between some
fixed natural or human-made landward boundary (e.g. a sea wall protecting a resort property
or resort buildings – see Figures 1 and 2) and the rising sea level. This process squeezes the
beach area until it is eventually lost. While significant loss of beach assets will have occurred
in all of the coastal resorts projected to be at risk to inundation and erosion associated with
a 1 m SLR scenario, the beach assets will have also been degraded at the coastal resort
properties not reported to be at risk in this analysis. Beach quality plays an important role
in the selection of Caribbean destinations and the price guests are willing to pay (Anning
et al., 2009; Ghermandi & Nunes, 2011). There is a chance that beach decline results in a
slippery slope toward destination decline. As beach resources degrade, price structures for
coastal accommodations begin to decline, affecting profitability and eventually resulting in
closures, unemployment and further decline in overall destination image. This analysis does
not account for the complex physical and socioeconomic interactions of the coastal tourism
system, and therefore underestimates the impact of SLR to coastal tourism properties
throughout the study area. Further scenario-based research is required to examine these
market complexities and interpret the implications for specific destination communities.
The differential vulnerability to SLR inundation and erosion among the 19 CARICOM
countries can be largely explained by three factors: the geophysical characteristics of the
islands and their different coastal topographic settings (e.g. extensive low coastal plains
below, low lying islands largely composed of unconsolidated materials, volcanic islands),
the proximity of resort properties to the coastline and the level of coastal structural protection
in place to prevent erosion impacts. While all countries currently have coastal set back
requirements for new resort construction, this was not always the case and the earlier the
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Journal of Sustainable Tourism 893
Figure 2. Structural protection to preserve artificial beach area.
tourism development occurred in the country, the greater likelihood tourism infrastructure
will be in very close proximity to the shoreline. Similarly, the level of enforcement and
flexibility of exemptions of coastal set back and structural protection has also varied by
country and era of construction.
A valid critique of many engineering and geomatics-based SLR studies is that they represent
only the potential impacts of future SLR and have not adequately accounted for adaptation
strategies. History demonstrates that societies will not idly watch high value land, infras-
tructure and cultural assets be lost to the sea. There are three response approaches to SLR:
retreat – in which coastal properties are abandoned and the shoreline and coastal ecosys-
tems allowed to shift landward; accommodation – where existing land uses continue, but the
risks to people and infrastructure are managed through elevated structures and risk sharing
strategies (e.g. flood insurance programs) and protection – where hard structures (e.g. sea
walls and dikes) or other “soft” engineered approaches (e.g. vegetation, beach nourishment,
dune construction) are used to protect the land from the sea and allow existing land uses to
continue with little modification. All have important environmental, economic and social
implications and the particular combination of these responses will vary substantially by
region and type of land use.
Nicholls et al. (2011) conclude that while the potential land loss and infrastructure
damage impacts of a 1–2 m SLR over the twenty-first century would be severe, these will
be partially avoided through widespread implementation and upgrade of coastal protection.
Although structural and “soft” engineering (particularly beach nourishment) protection
strategies have widespread application in coastal tourism destinations, their use for SLR
adaptation in the tourism sector presents some special challenges. Typical structural coastal
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894 D. Scott et al.
protection is not well suited to the business objectives of coastal resorts: providing unob-
structed views of the sea and maintaining unhindered access to the beach and sea. While
structural protection can be easily designed to protect resort buildings, coastal squeeze will
mean that resorts will lose their critical beach asset (Figures 1 and 2) unless it is accompa-
nied by substantial investment in beach nourishment. The impact of contemporary beach
erosion illustrates the negative economic impact of beach loss on resort attractiveness, room
rates and property value (Buzinde et al., 2010a, 2010b; Cowell, Thom, Jones, Everts, &
Simanovic, 2006; Hamilton, 2007; Houston 2002) and serves as a useful analogue for the
impacts of SLR without beach nourishment. The available evidence suggests strongly that
when 3S tourism becomes 2S, price structures, profitability and destination image are put
at risk. The economics of structural protection and beach nourishment required to adapt
to 1 m SLR have not been adequately assessed. So while structural protection will be a
prudent course of action for certain tourism sector assets, such as airports, cruise ship
terminals and cities that function as important tourism destinations, it is uncertain whether
it would similarly represent an effective and economical response by coastal resorts that
must maintain beach area and aesthetics sufficient to attract international tourism clientele.
Engineered solutions, such as the artificial beach area preserved by a sea wall in Figure 2,
may be more suited to low-yield budget all-inclusive 3S tourism, where expansive natural
beach areas are not marketed and other factors (e.g. entertainment, shopping, price) are the
more salient decision criteria.
The adaptive capacity of coastal destinations to cope with SLR will be determined by
a number of key factors: policy and planning frameworks that enable or actively assist
coordinated structural protection and cost-sharing of beach nourishment; resort property
ownership and local taxation structures; insurability and insurance costs; the ability to afford
the major costs associated with structural protection and recurrent beach nourishment,
which typically must be redone every decade or sometimes after major storm events, and
the availability of affordable and environmentally sustainable sources of sand. For example,
major destinations with a cluster of large resorts owned by multinational corporations with
greater access to capital to afford coastal protection would have greater adaptive capacity
than small communities with less dense or only isolated resort development. This differential
adaptive capacity will alter the sustainability and competitive relationships among coastal
destinations over time, with the likely effect of further concentrating higher-yield coastal
tourism in destinations with capacity to maintain natural beach area.
Coastal retreat is a largely untested strategy for coastal tourism destinations. The plan-
ning required for coordinated retreat would be highly complex, severely challenging local
governments and planning authorities and would very likely result in major legal disputes,
substantial impacts on property values, a reduced taxation base and a decline in tourism
activity during this transitional phase. Nonetheless, this may become the only option for
destinations unable to afford structural protection and beach nourishment. Notably, retreat
may also be unavailable as an adaptation response where natural barriers or existing land
uses (e.g. residential areas, transportation corridors) physically or economically prevent
landward relocation of coastal tourism properties.
Using a geo-referenced database of over 906 major coastal resort properties in 19
CARICOM countries, it is estimated that 266 (29%) would be partially or fully inundated
by a 1 m rise in sea level. Between 440 (49%) and 546 (60%) of these resort properties
would be at risk to erosion damage associated with the same 1 m SLR, while a much
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Journal of Sustainable Tourism 895
larger number would experience significant loses of beach assets. The adaptive capacity
of individual coastal tourism properties and destinations is argued to differ substantially,
with salient implications for destination competitiveness and the sustainability of coastal
tourism in some destinations.
With the inextricable link between coastal tourism and local and national economies
in the Caribbean, there remains an important need to improve SLR risk mapping by
obtaining high-resolution topographical and bathymetrical data sets (e.g. light detection
and ranging data) and assessing the adaptation options (policy, planning, design) available
to tourism properties and communities (e.g. where beach nourishment is feasible or natural
landward migration of beaches is possible). Such information is a prerequisite for coastal
management agencies, local governments, citizens and the tourism industry, to engage
in an informed dialogue on future coastal tourism development and begin the process of
mainstreaming SLR into existing scenarios, tourism master plans, institutions and regula-
tory frameworks. This improved information base is also essential to avoid maladaptation
(which is an action or process that increases vulnerability to climate change-related hazards
[Lim & Spanger-Siegfried, 2005]), such as continued tourism investment in high-risk zones
or the unjustified near-term restrictions on tourism development that could needlessly and
adversely affect property values and job creation. The tourism research community has an
important role in this endeavor to avoid asymmetric access to information on property risk
that could favor certain property owners and help foster participatory, community-based
adaptation processes.
A number of studies have found that tourism stakeholders indicate a clear need for
government leadership on climate change adaptation (see Scott, Hall, & G¨
ossling, 2012
for a review) and communications with coastal tourism stakeholders in the Caribbean
also reveal this to be particularly the case with respect to adaptation to SLR. The very
long timeframes of SLR impacts are considered largely incompatible with coastal tourism
investment and business planning, restricting SLR adaptation to a very low priority status.
Real estate speculation is a reality of coastal tourism development, with many investors
planning to divest from coastal resort projects within a few years and well before the typical
25–30 year life cycle of a coastal resort. Foreign ownership that increasingly dominates
coastal regions and often involves multiple layers of investors and managers (Honey &
Krantz, 2007) exacerbates these barriers to SLR adaptation planning.
In conclusion, this analysis represents but a first step in understanding the vulnerability
of tourism to SLR. Much more is needed to assess physical and socioeconomic adapta-
tion potential through the complex interaction of physical processes, tourism marketing,
tourist perceptions, coastal property markets, insurance, coastal management regulations
and protection cost structures and community planning responses.
While this study focused on the Caribbean region, it is clear that SLR will similarly
represent the preeminent long-term threat to the sustainability of coastal tourism in SIDS and
indeed coastal tourism destinations worldwide. It is, therefore, imperative that the coastal
tourism research community together with coastal management professionals initiate the
process of adapting to SLR, not because there is an impending catastrophe, but because
there will be important opportunities to avoid adverse impacts in the near-term, and because
the complex planning required for coastal management and protection (environmental
assessments, financing, land acquisition and construction) often takes decades to complete.
The United Nations Development Programme, the International Development Research Centre,
the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canada Research Chair
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896 D. Scott et al.
program supported aspects of this work. The respective contributions or these organizations are
greatly acknowledged. Further discussion of sectoral impacts of sea level rise in Caribbean can be
found in United Nations Development Programme (2010) Quantification and Magnitude of Losses
and Damages Resulting from the Impacts of Climate Change: Modelling the Transformational
Impacts and Costs of Sea Level Rise in the Caribbean. United Nations Development Programme,
Barbados, West Indies. Available at:
Notes on contributors
Dr Daniel Scott is a Canada Research Chair in Global Change and Tourism at the University of
Waterloo in Canada. He has worked on the human dimensions of climate change for over 10 years
and been a contributing author and expert reviewer for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change Third and Fourth Assessment Reports. Dr Scott is the Chair of the World
Meteorological Organization’s Expert Team on climate and tourism and Co-chair of the International
Society of Biometeorology’s Commission on Climate Tourism and Recreation.
Dr Murray Simpson is a Senior Visiting Research Associate at the School of Geography and the
Environment, University of Oxford, UK and the Chief Executive Officer of the non-governmental
organization the CARIBSAVE Partnership.
Ryan Sim is a Geomatics Research Assistant at the Department of Geography and Environmental
Management, University of Waterloo, Canada.
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... The industry can be seen as both a culprit and a victim in the sense that it depends on the environment and the ecosystem services all along the value chain but also along the building life cycle, from construction, operation, and refurbishment, and is thus a contributor to climate-and biodiversity-related challenges (Legrand, 2021a). At the same time, the industry is also directly affected by changes in the environment with the effects of climate change felt first-hand when destinations are becoming less desirable (Wang et al., 2019) or when there is a potential physical risk involved such as properties located in coastal areas facing sea level rise (Scott et al., 2012;Sison, 2019). ...
... A growing body of literature indicates that sea-level rise (SLR) threatens low-lying coastal and estuarine zones worldwide 5 , which will have nearly 1 billion inhabitants by 2030 6 , through a range of hazards and impacts including more frequent and/or intense coastal ooding 7, 8, 9, 10 , loss of habitats/ecosystems 11, 12 , including islands 13, 14 , and coral reefs 15 , coastal erosion and shoreline changes 16, 17 , and salinisation of surface water and groundwater 18, 19, 20 . These hazards/impacts, in turn, can damage economic assets, urban/coastal infrastructure and coastal tourism 21,22,23,24,25 , in uence and induce human migration 26, 27 , impact the livelihoods and safety of vulnerable coastal populations 28, 29 , threaten heritage sites 30, 31 , and even jeopardise renewable energy plans 32, 33 . ...
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As sea-level rise (SLR) accelerates due to climate change, its multidisciplinary field of science has similarly expanded, from about 50 documents in 1990 to nearly 15,000 documents from 1990 to 2021. Here, big data, bibliometric techniques are adopted to systematically analyse this growing, large-scale literature. Four main research clusters (themes) emerge: (I) geological dimensions and biogeochemical cycles, (II) impacts, risks, and adaptation, (III) physical components of sea-level change, and (IV) coastal ecosystems and habitats, with 16 associated sub-themes. This analysis provides insights into the prioritisation of research agendas, the challenges and opportunities of future integrative, global scale assessment processes (e.g., next IPCC report), and how effectively this discipline is achieving societal impact. For example, the relative importance of sub-themes evolves consistently with a decline in pure science analysis towards solution-focused topics associated with SLR risks such as surface elevation change, flooding, ice sheets dynamics, coastal erosion and squeeze, and engineered shorelines.
... In Grenada, the drought of 2009/2010 caused some hotels to close, others had to ration water for guests (which they complained about) and some tourism water-related activities were interrupted [136]. Although a limited number of Efate's hoteliers perceived that droughts had increased (41%) and that there was a scarcity of freshwater (28%), limited water supply could affect hygiene and sanitation, increasing the risk of water and food contamination [137]. This is a major concern for many islands in the Caribbean, the Pacific and Indian Oceans as compromised health standards could increase the risk of exposure of guests and staff alike to infectious diseases [138]. ...
Many economies in small tropical islands are built on tourism, using their sun, sea and sand to entice visitors. However, climate variability and climate change are affecting these small islands, threatening many livelihoods and their fragile economies. There is limited information on the adaptation strategies and perception of climate change within key sectors of these economies, including the accommodation sector. Hence a study which examines the experiences of Antigua Island in the Caribbean and Efate Island in the South Pacific. The uniqueness of this study is that there are few published articles on this topic especially those comparing two islands. This study found that whilst all hoteliers perceived changes in precipitation, temperature and sea level only a limited number implemented few adaptation measures. We conclude that there is need for government regulation of the accommodation sector as it relates to managing the impacts of climate change, to help build resilience within the sector and wider economy.
... The ethnic and socio-culturally heterogenous Caribbean people share a common reality of living in a region vulnerable to climate-related threats. The effects of climate change are palpably evident, with coastal erosion and increasing frequency of sargassum (seaweed) blooms (Langin, 2018;Scott et al., 2012). Decaying blooms are particularly problematic, as they produce gases causing lung irritation and nervous system toxicity in humans (Resiere et al., 2018). ...
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Mental health professionals (MHPs) have roles supporting mitigation, preparation, and recovery in the global climate crisis. This commentary describes initiatives in the Caribbean to address climate-related threats to individuals and communities focussing on the role of MHPs in supporting community-based projects, regional public health disaster responses, and climate research.
... Also, wetlands have been impacted seriously by tourism in many islands (Bacon, 1987). Other issues related to the development of the industry are property crime and robbery against tourists (De Albuquerque & McElroy, 1999), and climate change resulting in loss of beach area (Scott, Simpson, & Sim, 2012). The consequences of climate change are evident, but as in the case of Barbuda focus has to be on a future path for tourism development based on local control (Gould & Lewis, 2018). ...
... In the context of regional tourism, resilience can be understood as the ability of regions to recover from sudden shocks. Examples include the global financial crises (Benítez-Aurioles, 2020; Cellini & Cuccia, 2015), natural disasters (Filimonau & De Coteau, 2020), climate change (Scott et al., 2012), terror attacks (Liu & Pratt, 2017) or the spread of dangerous diseases such as the Covid-19 pandemic (Boto-García & Mayor, 2022;Bui & Wickens, 2021;Duro et al., 2022;Sharma et al., 2021). ...
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This study investigates empirically if land characteristics (especially forests and mountains) are of importance for the local ability to withstand the shock of the Covid-19 on domestic tourism demand during the summer of 2020. A second step of the analysis focuses on the recovery stage in the subsequent summer. Three tourism indicators are considered: arrivals, overnight stays and length of stay. Official data on land use characteristics of 2029 villages in the Federal state of Bavaria (South Germany) are employed for the analysis. Estimations using the Spatial Durbin model combined with the Heckman selection model reveal that there is a significant relationship between the proportion of forest within as well as surrounding the village and the demand for domestic tourism compared with the 2019 baseline. There is also a significant relationship with the altitude of the surrounding areas. The importance of mountains and forests is present in both the initial year of the pandemic and in the recovery year of 2021, although the magnitude is lower in the summer of 2021. Direct and spatial effects can also be found for lakes and rivers on overnight stays and length of stay. ARTICLE HISTORY
... A recent study show that climate change vulnerability already has a statistically and economically significant negative effect on international tourism revenue in Caribbean countries (Cevik and Ghanzanchyan, 2021). Coastal areas are the most visited tourist destinations as well as the most vulnerable to climate change due to hurricane and inundation risks throughout the region (UNDP, 2010;Scott, Simpson, and Sim, 2012;Pathak and others, 2021). 4 In the long-term, the dual combination of rising sea levels and of coastal erosion is projected to reduce the quantity and quality of available beach space without significant adaptation measures and could therefore diminish the attractiveness of the region as high-end tourism destination. ...
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Global warming is the most significant threat to ecosystems and people's health and living standards, especially in small island states in the Caribbean and elsewhere. This paper contributes to the debate by analyzing different options to scale up climate change mitigation and adaptation. In particular, the empirical analysis indicates that increasing energy efficiency and reducing the use of fossil fuel in electricity generation could lead to a significant reduction in carbon emissions, while investing in physical and financial resilience would yield long-run benefits. From a risk-reward perspective, the advantages of reducing the risks associated with climate change and the health benefits from higher environmental quality clearly outweigh the potential cost of climate change mitigation and adaptation in the short run. The additional revenue generated by environmental taxes could be used to compensate the most vulnerable households, building a multilayered safety net, and strengthening structural resilience.
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Storm surges are natural events that influence the dispersion of sediment along coasts, leading to sudden morphological changes in the seabed. From this perspective, we focused our study on the analysis of measurements from a mobile X-band radar system to survey the sea state and the changes in the seabed depth during storm surges. This analysis was supported by additional information from Sentinel 2 satellite images, the Gorgona wave buoy, the San Giovanni alla Vena hydrometric station, and an echosounder survey. The survey period was from 26 to 28 February and 3 March 2020. During these days, the simultaneous occurrence of a storm surge and flooding of the Arno River was monitored. The analysis of the marine X-band radar mobile images determined the formation and dismantling of seabed shapes. An elongated shoal and a bar-like shape are visible on the right side of the Arno River in the radar image of 26 February and at the Arno mouth on that of 28 February, respectively. The radar image of 3 March shows, near the mouth of the Arno, a delta shape probably due to the deposition of sediment favoured by the interaction between the river flow and storm waves. X-band coastal radar is a detection system that improves the effectiveness and reliability of coastal monitoring because it has a high temporal and spatial resolution. It can be considered a valuable warning system to monitor the sea-bed depth changes in strategic sites, such as harbour areas, during sea storms. Moreover, this system, together with a satellite observing system, is a valid tool for shedding light on the environmental drivers that reshape coastal areas.
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The growing interest of scholars in bibliometric research can be traced to the abundance of published literature on the subject in various fields and categories. To understand the extent of climate change research in the field of marketing and to identify the major authors, journals, issues, and trends, bibliometric analysis was conducted on publications in climate change and marketing, searched on the Web of Science database between 1994 and 2022. A total of 758 publications were obtained from the search. VosViewer, ScientoPy, and BiblioShiny were utilized to analyze the data on authors, keywords, institutions, countries, sources, citations, and co-citations, and the most prolific ones were identified. The findings show an upward trend in the annual number of publications with the top three most productive countries the US, Australia, and the UK and the most productive institutions are located in the US, Canada, and New Zealand. The top author’s keywords are climate change, sustainability, and ‘marketing’. However, while the use of the social marketing keyword has decreased in the last three years, the keyword sustainability has gained importance. Five main clusters emerged from the data. The largest cluster focuses on environmental conservation, followed by food sustainability and biodiversity, green marketing and consumer behavior, sustainable tourism, and social marketing. The longitudinal investigation contributes to the research on climate change and marketing by exploring the current state and evolution of the field.
The long, open-ended period of recovery from a disaster event is the phase of a disaster that the interdisciplinary field of disaster studies struggles to understand. In the process of rebuilding, places do not simply reset – they transform, often in ways that confound any reduction of disaster risk, instead making people and settings more vulnerable to future hazard events. Reducing disaster risk is regarded as a global priority, but policies intended to reduce disaster risk have been largely ineffective. This obduracy represents a grand challenge in disaster studies. Here, I propose that the correlated trends of runaway economic costs of disaster events, growing social inequity, environmental degradation, and resistance to policy intervention in disaster settings are hallmark indicators of a system trap – a dynamic in which self-reinforcing feedbacks drive a system toward an undesirable and seemingly inescapable state, with negative consequences that tend to amplify each other over time. I offer that these trends in disaster settings are the collective expression of an especially powerful and distinct kind of system trap, which here I term the "disaster trap" – a new theoretical concept to help explain and address runaway disaster risk. I suggest that disaster traps are likely strongest in tourism-dominated coastal settings with high exposure to tropical cyclones and colonial histories of racial capitalism, which I explore with an empirical illustration from Antigua & Barbuda. Formalising a linkage between gilded and safe-development traps matters because their effects likely compound each other nonlinearly, such that disaster risk only increases and disaster risk reduction becomes increasingly difficult to achieve. Addressing traps requires understanding them as dynamic systems, described as fundamentally and completely as possible – their components, mechanisms, drivers, and structure – in order to reveal when and where interventions might be most effective at reducing disaster risk.
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As ice sheets gain or lose mass, and as water moves between the continents and the ocean, the solid Earth deforms and the gravitational field of the planet is perturbed. Both of these effects lead to regional patterns in sea level change that depart dramatically from the global average. Understanding these patterns will lead to better constraints on the various contributors to the observed sea level change and, ultimately, to more robust projections of future changes. In both of these applications, a key step is to apply a correction to sea level observations, based on data from tide gauges, satellite altimetry, or gravity, to remove the contaminating signal that is due to the ongoing Earth response to the last ice age. Failure to accurately account for this so-called glacial isostatic adjustment has the potential to significantly bias our understanding of the magnitude and sources of present-day global sea level rise. This paper summarizes the physics of several important sources of regional sea level change. Moreover, we discuss several promising strategies that take advantage of this regional variation to more fully use sea level data sets to monitor the impact of climate change on the Earth system.
Gössling, S. & Hall, C.M. (eds) 2006, Tourism and Global Environmental Change, Routledge, London. 344pp, ISBN 0-415-36131-1 (Hbk) 0-415-36132-x (Pbk) 0-203-01191-0 (Ebk) For a copy of the book please order via a library or purchase online
Climate change is the single most important global environmental and development issue facing the world today and has emerged as a major topic in tourism studies. Climate change is already affecting the tourism industry and is anticipated to have profound implications for tourism in the twenty-first century, including consumer holiday choices, the geographic patterns of tourism demand, the competitiveness and sustainability of destinations and the contribution of tourism to international development.
Cambridge Core - Environmental Policy, Economics and Law - Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation - edited by Christopher B. Field