University of Tasmania
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Improving adaptation planning for future sea level rise and coastal flooding

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posted on 2023-05-28, 08:59 authored by Ramm, TD
Sea level rise has the potential to exacerbate coastal flooding around the world, causing more frequent extreme sea levels, nuisance flooding and permanent inundation. Projecting diverse physical, environmental and socio-economic impacts to coastal communities across multi-decadal timeframes is vital for informed adaptation planning. However, this is increasingly uncertain and challenged by conflicting stakeholder priorities. This thesis develops an interdisciplinary approach to advance the planning of long-term adaptation pathways in the context of coastal flood risk management. Utilising three case studies in south-east Australia, it combines the strengths of robust decision making (RDM) and dynamic adaptive policy pathways (DAPP) ‚Äö- both prominent tools to support decision-making under conditions of uncertainty ‚Äö- together with solicited values-based information to make three novel advances towards flexible adaptation pathways planning. First, this thesis combines the strengths of RDM and DAPP for planning adaptation pathways by using scenario discovery to provide a multi-dimensional description of adaptation tipping points. The scenario discovery process uses an existing cluster finding algorithm to identify future conditions where adaptation policies no longer keep flood risk at tolerable levels. Combining RDM and DAPP is a novel approach in coastal flood risk management and scenario discovery provides greater visibility on the physical factors driving adaptation tipping points. Second, values-based information is integrated into the adaptation planning process in an attempt to consider subjective social and cultural impacts from coastal flooding. In this regard, the novel combination and explanatory value of lived and landscape values is investigated. Consideration of these more intangible effects are often omitted in coastal adaptation planning but can contribute to more informed adaptation decisions. Third, the combined RDM and DAPP method developed uses both geographic information system (GIS) software and open source programming tools to analyse flood impacts. This improves the usability and relevance of a combined RDM and DAPP approach, enabling the efficient redeployment and customisation of the method to suit different location-specific needs. Such an approach also provides a lower cost entry point for local government agencies to begin planning coastal adaptation pathways. Each of these advances combine to provide a framework that improves the way coastal adaptation pathways are planned and developed. The findings elucidated from the case studies show how a combined RDM and DAPP approach can account for spatial and temporal interactions between hazard, exposure and vulnerability flood risk factors, which improves the way robustness is measured for adaptation policy options. Values-based approaches can shape the selection of adaptation objectives, improve the design of options, support the evaluations of adaptation pathways and inform monitoring systems. The resultant adaptation pathways framework can support local government in planning sustainable strategies to manage long-term flood impacts. This has global applications for coastal flood risk management that will become increasingly important throughout the coming century.


Publication status

  • Unpublished

Rights statement

Copyright 2018 the author Chapter 2 appears to be the equivalent of a post-print version of an article published as: Ramm, T. D., White, C. J., Chan, A. H. C., Watson, C. S., 2017, A review of methodologies applied in Australian practice to evaluate long-term coastal adaptation options, Climate risk management, 17, 35-51. Iw was published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license ( Chapter 3 appears to be the equivalent of a post-print version of an article published as: Ramm, T. D., Watson, C. S., White, C. J., 2018. Describing adaptation tipping points in coastal flood risk management, Computers, environment and urban systems, 69, 74-86 Chapter 4 appears to be the equivalent of a post-print version of an article published as: Ramm, T. D., Graham, S., White, C. J., Watson, C. S., 2017. Advancing values-based approaches to climate change adaptation: a case study from Australia, Environmental science & policy, 76, 113-123 Chapter 5 appears to be the equivalent of a post-print version of an article published as: Ramm, T. D., Watson, C. S., White, C. J., 2018. Strategic adaptation pathway planning to manage sea-level rise and changing coastal flood risk, Australia, Environmental science & policy, 87, 92-101

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