Sea level rise impacts in coastal zones: Soft measures to cope with it

Paola Bianca Cisneros Linares


Sea level rise impacts are projected to cause multiple negative consequences in coastal zones such as coastal erosion, flooding, flood-related health problems, property damage and social-economic impacts. Thus, it is imperative to assess adaptation measures to minimize these devastating projections. Several responsive strategies to sea level rise (i.e. Retreat, Accommodate, Protect) have been developed. Within the Protect Responsive Strategy, ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ adaptation options have been widely implemented in coastal zones. This paper examines several ‘soft’ adaptation options (beach nourishment, dune restoration, afforestation and reforestation, and marine soft engineering technology), which provide interesting alternatives to address sea level rise in coastal zones. Advantages and disadvantages of these soft options are analyzed from an ecological and socio-economic perspective. The paper concludes with some proposed recommendations that could support soft structure approaches in coastal zone areas.


management, environment, sea level rise, social

Full Text:



Black, K. & Mead, S. (2001). Wave rotation for coastal protection. In Proceedings of the 15th Australasian Coastal and Ocean Engineering Conference, (pp. 120-127). Retrieved from:

Bosello, F., Roson, R., & Tol, R. (2007). Economy-wide estimates of the implications of climate change: Sea level rise. Environmental and Resource Economics, 37(3), 549-571.

Davison, A., Nicholls, R., & Leatherman, S. (1992). Beach nourishment as a coastal management tool: an annotated bibliography on developments associated with the artificial nourishment of beaches. Journal of Coastal Research, 8(4), 984-1022. Retrieved from

El-Raey, M., Dewidar, K., & El-Hattab, M. (1999). Adaptation to the impacts of sea level rise in Egypt. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 4(3-4), 343-361.

Esteves, L., & Finkl, C. (1998). The problem of critically eroded areas (CEA); an evaluation of Florida beaches. Journal of Coastal Research, 26, 11-18. Retrieved from

Fatimah, E., Wahab, A. K. A., & Ismail, H. (2008). Numerical modeling approach of an artificial mangrove root system (ArMS) submerged breakwater as wetland habitat protector. Proceeding of the seventh international conference on coastal and port engineering, PIANC-COPEDEC VII, United Arab Emirates, 88, 1-20. Retrieved from

Ghazali, N. H. M. (2005). New innovations and technologies in coastal rehabilitation. Proceeding of the International Conference on Innovations and Technologies in Oceanography for Sustainable Development, Malaysia. Retrieved from

Gómez-Pina, G., Munoz-Perez, J. J., Ramírez, J. L., & Ley, C. (2002). Sand dune management problems and techniques, Spain. Journal of Coastal Research, 36(36), 325-332. Retrieved from

Gornitz, V., Couch, S., & Hartig, E. K. (2002). Impacts of sea level rise in the New York City metropolitan area. Global and Planetary Changes 32(1), 61-88.

Greene, K. (2002, November). Beach nourishment: a review of the biological and physicalImpacts. Retrieved from

Hall, M. J., & Pilkey, O. H. (1991). Effects of hard stabilization on dry beach width for New Jersey. Journal of Coastal Research, 7(3), 771-785. Retrieved from

Hanson, H., Brampton, A., Capobianco, M., Dette, H., Hamm, L., Laustrup, C., . . . Spanhoff, R. (2002). Beach nourishment projects, practices, and objectives - a European overview. Coastal Engineering, 47(2), 81-111.

Harris, L. E. & Sample, J. W. (2009). The evolution of multi-celled sand-filled geosynthetic systems for coastal protection and surfing enhancement. Reef Journal 1(1). Retrieved from

Herrera, A., Gomez-Pina, G., Fages, L., de La Casa, A., & Munoz-Perez, J. J. (2010). Environmental impact of beach nourishment: a case study of the Rio San Pedro beach (SW Spain). The Open Oceanography Journal, 4(1), 32-41.

Hertling, U., & Lubke, R. (1999). Use of Ammophila arenaria for dune stabilization in South Africa and its current distribution-perceptions and problems. Environmental Management, 24(4), 467-482.

Hilton, M., Duncan, M., & Jul, A. (2005). Processes of Ammophila arenaria (Marram grass) invasion and indigenous species displacement, Stewart Island, New Zealand. Journal of Coastal Research, 21(1), 175-185.

Iftekhar, & Islam, M. (2004). Managing mangroves in Bangladesh: a strategy analysis. Journal of Coastal Conservation, 10(1), 139-146.[0139:MMIBAS]2.0.CO;2

Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change. (1990). Coastal Zone Management. In Climate change: the IPCC response strategy (1990) (chap.5). Retrieved from

Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change. (1996). Climate change 1995: impacts, adaptations and mitigation of climate change: scientific technical analysis. Retrieved from

Ismail, H. (2003). Valued-added shore protection structures for enhancement of the marine ecosystem services. Proceeding of the 2003 Technical Seminar on Shoreline Management, Malaysia. Retrieved from Protection_Structures_for_the_Enhancement_of_Marine_Ecosystem_Services

Jackson, L., Reichelt, R. E., Restall, S., Corbett, B., Tomlinson, R., & McGrath, J. (2004). Marine ecosystem enhancement on a geotextile coastal protection reef: narrowneck reef case study. Proceeding of the 29th International Conference on Coastal Engineering, Portugal, 4, 3940-3952.

Khalil, S. M. (2008). The use of sand fences in barrier island restoration: experience on the Louisiana Coast. Retrieved from GetTRDoc.pdf

Leatherman, S. P, & Beller-Simms, N. (1997). Sea-level rise and small island states: an overview. Journal of Coastal Research, 24, 1-16. Retrieved from

Mato, Y., Isobe, T., Takada, H., Kanehiro, H., Ohtake, C., & Kaminuma, T. (2001). Plastic resin pellets as a transport medium for toxic chemicals in the marine environment. Environmental Science & Technology, 35(2), 318-324.

Meehl, G.A., Stocker, T.F., Collins, W.D., Friedlingstein, P., Gaye, A.T., Gregory, J.M.,…Zhao, Z. C. (2007). 2007: global climate projections. In Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (chap.10). Retrieved from

Miller, D., Thetford, M., & Yager, L. (2001). Evaluation of sand fence and vegetation for dune building following overwash by hurricane opal on santa rosa island, florida. Journal of Coastal Research, 17(4), 936-948. Retrieved from

Mumby, P. J, Edwards, A. J., Arias-Gonzalez, E., Lindeman, K. C., Blackwell, P. G., Gall, A.,…Llewellyn, G. (2004). Mangroves enhance the biomass of coral reef fish communities in the Caribbean. Nature, 427, 533-536.

Muniz, P., Danulat, E., Yannicelli, B., Garcia-Alonso, J., Medina, G., & Bicego, M. C. (2004). Assessment of contamination by heavy metals and petroleum hydrocarbons in sediments of Montevideo Harbour (Uruguay). Environment International, 29(8), 1019-1028.

Nabuurs, G.J., Masera, O., Andrasko, K., Benitez-Ponce, P., Boer, R., Dutschke, M.,…Zhang, X. (2007). Forestry. In Climate Change 2007: Mitigation. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (chap.9). Retrieved from

Nordstrom, K. (2005). Beach nourishment and coastal habitats: research needs to improve compatibility. Restoration Ecology, 13(1), 215-222.

Nordstrom, K. (2008). Beach and dune restoration. United kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Peterson, C. H., Hickerson, D., & Johnson, G. (2000). Short-term consequences of nourishment and bulldozing on the dominant large invertebrates of a sandy beach. Journal of Coastal Research, 16(2), 368-378. Retrieved from

Roze, F., & Lemauviel, S. (2004). Sand dune restoration in north Brittany, France: A 10-year monitoring study. Restoration Ecology, 12(1), 29-35.

Saenger, P., & Siddiqi, N. (1993). Land from the sea: The mangrove afforestation program of Bangladesh. Ocean and Coastal Management, 20(1), 23-39.

Sarwar, G., & Khan, M. (2007). Sea level rise: a threat to the coast of Bangladesh. Internationales Asien Forum.International Quarterly for Asian Studies, 38(3), 375-400. Retrieved from

Sawyer, L. (2011, April 1). Seawalls in Samoa: a look at their environmental, social and economic implications. Retrieved from

Seng, T. K., Ghazali, N. H. M., & Lim, O. H. (2009, August). Rehabilitation of the beach at Teluk Cempedak, Pahang, using pressure equalisation modules (PEM) System. Jurutera. Retrieved from

Shahbudin, S., Jalal, K.C.A., Kamaruzzaman, Y., Mohammad- Noor, N., Chit Dah, T., & Akbar John, B. (2011). Artificial seagrass: a habitat for marine fishes. Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science, 6(1), 85-92.

Shaifullah, K. M., Mezbahuddin, M., Sujauddin, M., & Haque, S M. S. (2008). Effects of coastal afforestation on some soil properties in Lakshmipur coast of Bangladesh. Journal of Forestry Research, 19(1), 32–36.

Shin, E. C., & Oh, Y. I. (2007). Coastal erosion prevention by geotextile tube technology. Geotextiles and Geomembranes, 25(4-5) 264–277.

Speybroeck, J., Bonte, D., Courtens, W., Gheskiere, T., Grootaert, P., Maelfait, J. P., …Degraer, S. (2005). How may beach nourishment affect the sandy beach ecosystem? The case of Belgian beaches. Proceedings of the Dunes and Estuaries 2005: International Conference on Nature Restoration Practices in European Coastal Habitats, Belgium, 19, 557-568. Retrieved from

Sturgess, P., & Atkinson, D. (1993) The clear-felling of sand-dune plantations: soil and vegetational processes in habitat restoration. Biological Conservation, 66, 171-183.

Turner, I. L., & Leatherman, S. P. (1997). Beach dewatering as a 'soft' engineering solution to coastal erosion: a history and critical review. Journal of Coastal Research, 13(4), 1050-1063. Retrieved from

Tunstall, S., Tapsell, S., Green, C., Floyd, P., & George, C. (2006). The health effects of flooding: social research results from England and Wales. Journal Of Water And Health, 4(3), 365-380. Retrieved from

Wilcock, F. A. & Carter, W. G. (1977). An environmental approach to the restoration of badly eroded sand dunes. Biological Conservation, 11(4), 279-291.



  • There are currently no refbacks.