Robert J. Nicholls's research while affiliated with University of East Anglia and other places

Publications (624)

Preprint
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2 Including sea-level rise (SLR) projections in coastal adaptation is increasingly recognized as 3 crucial. Here we analyze the first global survey on the use of SLR projections comprising 253 4 coastal practitioners engaged in adaptation/planning from 49 countries with time frames of 2050 5 and 2100. While recognition of the threat of SLR is almos...
Article
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The international community has committed to achieve 169 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets by 2030 and to enhance climate adaptation under the Paris Agreement. Despite the potential for synergies, aligning SDG and climate adaptation efforts is inhibited by an inadequate understanding of the complex relationship between SDG targets and adap...
Article
Adaptation plays a crucial role in managing the unavoidable risks from climate change. The UK is considered to be at the forefront of national adaptation planning. However, the extent to which plans and programmes translate into tangible risk reducing action on the ground, as opposed to adaptive capacity building, remains less clear. Given that the...
Article
The Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) delta is one of the world's largest deltas. It is currently experiencing high rates of relative sea-level rise of about 5 mm/year, reflecting anthropogenic climate change and land subsidence. This is expected to accelerate further through the 21st Century, so there are concerns that the GBM delta will be progress...
Article
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Climate change adaptation inherently entails investment decision-making under the high levels of uncertainty. To address this issue, a single fixed large investment can be divided into two or more sequential investments. This reduces the initial investment cost and adds flexibility about the size and timing of subsequent investment decisions. This...
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Coastal compound flooding events occur when extreme events of rainfall, river discharge and sea level coincide and collectively increase water surface elevation, exacerbating flooding. The meteorological conditions that generate these events are usually low‐pressure systems that generate high winds and intense rainfall. In this study, we identify t...
Article
Sea-level rise (SLR) confronts coastal societies and stakeholders with increasing hazards and coastal risks with large uncertainties associated to these changes. Adaptation to SLR requires societal and policy decision-making to consider these changing risks, which are in turn defined by socio-economic development objectives and the local societal c...
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Coastal areas are highly diverse, ecologically rich, regions of key socio-economic activity, and are particularly sensitive to sea-level change. Over most of the 20th century, global mean sea level has risen mainly due to warming and subsequent expansion of the upper ocean layers as well as the melting of glaciers and ice caps. Over the last three...
Preprint
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It is vital to robustly estimate the risks posed by extreme sea levels, especially in tropical regions where cyclones can generate large storm surges and observations are too limited in time and space to deliver reliable analyses. To address this limitation for the South China Sea region, we force a hydrodynamic model with a new synthetic database...
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The Indian Sundarbans, together with Bangladesh, comprise the largest mangrove forest in the world. Reclamation of the mangroves in this region ceased in the 1930s. However, they are still subject to adverse environmental influences, such as sediment starvation due to migration of the main river channels in the Ganges–Brahmaputra delta over the las...
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Deltas are experiencing profound demographic, economic and land use changes and human-induced catchment and climate change. Bangladesh exemplifies these difficulties through multiple climate risks including subsidence/sea-level rise, temperature rise, and changing precipitation patterns, as well as changing management of the Ganges and Brahmaputra...
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The city of Venice and the surrounding lagoonal ecosystem are highly vulnerable to variations in relative sea level. In the past ∼150 years, this was characterized by an average rate of relative sea-level rise of about 2.5 mm/year resulting from the combined contributions of vertical land movement and sea-level rise. This literature review reassess...
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Low-lying atoll islands are especially threatened by anticipated sea-level rise, and migration is often mentioned as a potential response of these island societies. Further, small island states are developing population, economic and adaptation policies to plan the future. Policies, such as raising of islands or land reclamation, require a long-ter...
Preprint
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Climate change adaptation inherently entails investment decision-making under the high levels of uncertainty. Under these circumstances, the option of deferring a decision to adapt is one of possible strategies to address uncertainty. However, this decision will potentially leave people and areas exposed to the risk of coastal flooding during the d...
Article
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Floods in the Venice city centre result from the superposition of several factors: astronomical tides; seiches; and atmospherically forced fluctuations, which include storm surges, meteotsunamis, and surges caused by atmospheric planetary waves. All these factors can contribute to positive water height anomalies individually and can increase the pr...
Article
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Venice is an iconic place and a paradigm of huge historical and cultural values at risk. The frequency of the flooding of the city centre has dramatically increased in recent decades, and this threat is expected to continue to grow – and even accelerate – through this century. This special issue is a collection of three review articles addressing d...
Article
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This paper reviews the state of the art in storm surge forecasting and its particular application in the northern Adriatic Sea. The city of Venice already depends on operational storm surge forecasting systems to warn the population and economy of imminent flood threats, as well as help to protect the extensive cultural heritage. This will be more...
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Populated coastal areas worldwide have a legacy of numerous solid waste disposal sites. At the same time, mean sea level is rising and likely to accelerate, increasing flooding and/or erosion. There is therefore concern that landfill sites located at and near the coast pose a growing risk to the environment from the potential release of liquid and...
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Sandy coastlines adjacent to tidal inlets are highly dynamic and widespread landforms, where large changes are expected due to climatic and anthropogenic influences. To adequately assess these important changes, both oceanic (e.g., sea-level rise) and terrestrial (e.g., fluvial sediment supply) processes that govern the local sediment budget must b...
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In coastal regions, floods can arise through a combination of multiple drivers, including direct surface run-off, river discharge, storm surge, and waves. In this study, we analyse compound flood potential in Europe and environs caused by these four main flooding sources using state-of-the-art databases with coherent forcing (i.e. ERA5). First, we...
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This study provides a literature‐based comparative assessment of uncertainties and biases in global to world‐regional scale assessments of current and future coastal flood risks, considering mean and extreme sea‐level hazards, the propagation of these into the floodplain, people and coastal assets exposed, and their vulnerability. Globally, by far...
Article
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Sea levels will rise, even with stringent climate change mitigation. Mitigation will slow the rate of rise. There is limited knowledge on how the costs of coastal protection vary with alternative global warming levels of 1.5 to 4.0 °C. Analysing six sea-level rise scenarios (0.74 to 1.09 m, 50th percentile) across these warming levels, and five Sha...
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Adaptation requires planning strategies that consider the combined effect of climatic and non-climatic drivers, which are deeply uncertain. This uncertainty arises from many sources, cascades and accumulates in risk estimates. A prominent trend to incorporate this uncertainty in adaptation planning is through adaptive approaches such as the dynamic...
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A Correction to this paper has been published: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-021-01064-z.
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The release of new and updated sea‐level rise (SLR) information, such as from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Reports, needs to be better anticipated in coastal risk and adaptation assessments. This requires risk and adaptation assessments to be regularly reviewed and updated as needed, reflecting the new information...
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Climate-induced sea-level rise and vertical land movements, including natural and human-induced subsidence in sedimentary coastal lowlands, combine to change relative sea levels around the world’s coasts. Although this affects local rates of sea-level rise, assessments of the coastal impacts of subsidence are lacking on a global scale. Here, we qua...
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Resilience is widely seen as an important attribute of coastal systems and, as a concept, is increasingly prominent in policy documents. However, there are conflicting ideas on what constitutes resilience and its operationalisation as an overarching principle of coastal management remains limited. In this paper, we show how resilience to coastal fl...
Preprint
Full-text available
In coastal regions, floods can arise through a combination of multiple drivers, including direct surface run- off, river discharge, storm surge and waves. In this study, we analyse compound flood potential in Europe caused by these four main flooding sources using state-of-the-art databases with homogenous forcing (i.e., ERA5). First, we perform an...
Article
Full-text available
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their corresponding targets are significantly interconnected, with many interactions, synergies, and trade-offs between individual goals across multiple temporal and spatial scales. This paper proposes a framework for the Integrated Assessment Modelling (IAM) of a complex deltaic socio-eco...
Preprint
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The international community has committed to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 and to enhance climate action under the Paris Agreement. Yet achievement of the SDGs is already threatened by climate-change impacts. Here we show that further adaptation this decade is urgently required to safeguard 68% of SDG targets against acute...
Article
Climate and socio-economic change impacts are likely to cross traditional sectoral and regional boundaries with cascading indirect, and potentially far-reaching, repercussions. This is particularly important for the food-water-land-ecosystems (FWLE) nexus, which is fundamental for the achievement of at least six of the seventeen Sustainable Develop...
Article
The Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) delta is one of the world's largest deltas. It is currently experiencing high rates of relative sea-level rise of about 5 mm/year, reflecting anthropogenic climate change and land subsidence. This is expected to accelerate further through the 21st Century, so there are concerns that the GBM delta will be progress...
Article
In the UK, coastal flooding and erosion are two of the primary climate-related hazards to communities, businesses, and infrastructure. To better address the ramifications of those hazards, now and into the future, the UK needs to transform its scattered, fragmented coastal data resources into a systematic, integrated, quality-controlled, openly acc...
Preprint
Full-text available
Venice is an iconic place and a paradigm of a huge historical and cultural value at risk. The frequency of flooding of the city centre has dramatically increased in recent decades and this threat is expected to continue to grow and even accelerate through this century. This special issue collects three review papers addressing different and complem...
Article
Flooding is the most damaging natural hazard in England today. Coastal flood risk management aims to reduce the impacts of coastal flooding through adaptation measures including spatial planning, engineered hard and soft interventions, and insurance. Yet there are few reviews which collectively assess these measures. This paper aims to characterise...
Preprint
Full-text available
This paper reviews the state-of-the-art in storm surge forecasting and its particular application in the northern Adriatic Sea. The city of Venice relies crucially on a good flood forecasting system in order to protect the extensive cultural heritage, their population, and their economic activities. Storm surge forecasting systems are in place to w...
Preprint
Full-text available
Floods in the Venice city centre result from the superposition of several factors: astronomical tides, seiches and atmospherically forced fluctuations, which include storm surges, meteotsunamis, and surges caused by planetary waves. All these factors can contribute to positive sea-level anomalies individually and can also result in extreme sea-leve...
Preprint
Full-text available
The City of Venice and the surrounding lagoonal ecosystem are highly vulnerable to variations in relative sea level. In the past ~150 years, this was characterized by a secular linear trend of about 2.5 mm/year resulting from the combined contributions of vertical land movement and sea-level rise. This literature review reassesses and synthesizes t...
Article
The coastal areas of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta are acknowledged hotspots of environmental and social concerns. This reflects a large, mainly rural population of 56.7 million, which is exposed to a range of natural hazards exacerbated by climate change, sea-level rise and subsidence. There are high levels of poverty and limited social well...
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Natural World Heritage Sites (NWHS), which are of Outstanding Universal Value, are increasingly threatened by natural and anthropogenic pressures. This is especially true for coastal NWHS, which are additionally subject to erosion and flooding. This paper assesses shoreline change from 1984 to 2016 within the boundaries of 67 designated sites, prov...
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Resource-based livelihoods are uncertain and potentially unstable due to variability over time, including seasonal variation: this instability threatens marginalised populations who may fall into poverty. However, empirical understanding of trajectories of household well-being and poverty is limited. Here, we present a new household-level model of...
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Abstract Port infrastructure is critical to the world's economy and has seen major expansion over the last few decades. In the future there are likely to be further demands for port capacity which will require additional port area while existing ports will need upgrading in response to sea‐level rise to maintain current levels of operability. This...
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Global models of tide, storm surge, and wave setup are used to obtain projections of episodic coastal flooding over the coming century. The models are extensively validated against tide gauge data and the impact of uncertainties and assumptions on projections estimated in detail. Global “hotspots” where there is projected to be a significant change...
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Bangladesh is one of the most climate sensitive countries globally, creating significant challenges for future development. Here we apply an integrated assessment model -- Delta Dynamic Integrated Emulator Model (ΔDIEM) -- to the south-west coastal zone of Bangladesh to explore the outcomes of four contrasting and plausible development trajectories...
Conference Paper
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) promote sustainable development and aim to address multiple challenges including those related to poverty, hunger, inequality, climate change and environmental degradation. Interlinkages between SDGS means there is potential for interactions, synergies and trade-offs between individual goals a...
Preprint
We thank Törnqvist et al. for engaging with our modelling study on the future response of global coastal wetlands to sea-level rise (SLR) and their careful and critical discussion of the presented methods and results. However, we disagree with their suggestion that our modelling approach is inadequate, a claim which relies on two arguments: (1) the...
Article
Climate change is and will continue altering the world’s coasts, which are the most densely populated and economically active areas on earth and home for highly valuable ecosystems. While there is considerable relevant research, in the authors’ experience this problem remains challenging for coastal engineering. This paper reviews important challen...
Article
Developing future projections of shoreline change requires a good understanding of the driving coastal processes. These processes result primarily from the combination of mean sea level, waves, storm surges and tides, which are affected by global and regional climate change, and whose uncertainty increases with time. This paper reviews the current...
Article
In England and Wales, there are at least 1700 coastal landfills in the coastal flood plain and at least 60 threatened by erosion, illustrating a global problem. These landfills are a major issue in shoreline management planning (SMP) which aims to manage the risks associated with flooding and coastal erosion. Where landfills exist, “hold the line”...
Conference Paper
The flood risk management (FRM) doctrine that drives coastal flood preparedness in England acknowledges that not all floods can be prevented. Subsequently, beyond flood prevention other measures such as control, acceptance, adaptation, and redistribution constitute part of both national management policy and local policy implementation. The aim of...
Chapter
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What are the possible trajectories of delta development over the coming decades? Trajectories will be determined by the interactions of biophysical trends such as changing sediment supplies, subsidence due to compaction of sediment and climate change, along with key socio-economic trends of migration and urbanisation, agricultural intensification,...
Chapter
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Through the Anthropocene, growing populations and economic assets have intensified risk. Within deltas, the concurrence of high human populations and economic assets with climatic events, physical and biophysical processes, and natural hazards generate ‘hotspots’ of societal risk. Identification of these hotspots requires combining hazards, exposur...