World Bank Assesses Impacts of Climate Change on Coastal Wetlands

World Bank1 March 2013: The World Bank has released a study titled "Sea-level rise and coastal wetlands: impacts and costs," which warns that a one-meter rise in sea levels from climate change could destroy over 60% of the developing world's coastal wetlands currently found at one meter or less elevation.  This scenario could provoke economic losses of around $630 million per year.

The publication analyzes several types of coastal wetlands in 76 countries and regions, suggesting that the regions of East Asia and the Pacific, and the Middle East and North Africa face the highest threats. The analysis employed Geographic Information System (GIS) software to overlay the area of the wetlands with the inundation zones projected for a one meter sea-level rise, as well as the best available spatially-disaggregated global data sets from various sources. 

The findings on wetland areas at risk from a one meter sea-level rise are presented first at the regional level, then at the country level. The authors then transform these areas into lost economic values, to conclude with a presentation of relevant prior research on impacts of sea-level rise on coastal wetlands.

Despite the difficulties to accurately measure wetlands loss over time, the expected impact of this work is to raise awareness and encourage governments to invest more is coastal wetlands protection. [World Bank Press Release] [Publication: Sea-level Rise and Coastal Wetlands: Impacts and Costs]