Coastal Research Centre (FZK) News and Events News
New publication on the effects of climate change on small islands

New publication on the effects of climate change on small islands

Detection and attribution of key drivers of coastal erosion processes. Research project of the German Research Foundation investigates adaptation strategies to sea level rise

Small island states such as the Maldives are severely affected by the consequences of climate change and the resulting rise in sea levels. The atolls in the Indian Ocean are only about one meter above sea level. Adaptation to climate change is therefore a particular challenge. A research project by the Leibniz University Hannover (LUH) together with the University Hamburg has now examined in detail the coastal processes and the adaptation strategies of the population to the progressive erosion of the coastline on the Maldives. The DICES project was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in the priority program "Sea Level & Society" (SPP1889, The results of the project have recently been published in the renowned journal Nature Communications

The researchers wanted to find out how well the adaptation strategies already developed by the central government of the Maldives are suited to dealing with the coastal problems that are already pressing today and being prepared for the future. The key questions as to whether sea-level rise is the sole cause of changes in the coastline and which natural or anthropogenic processes are driving them were the focus of the investigations. The aim was to counteract undesirable developments in the adaptation to climate-related sea level rise more effectively. In order to achieve this, the attribution of the driving factors of the observed coastal erosion had to be determined. To this end, a team from the Ludwig Franzius Institute of Hydraulic, Estuarine and Coastal Engineering at the LUH conducted three field studies on the Maldives to examine the situation and developments on the reef island of Fuvahmulah and subsequently to carry out hydro-morphodynamic modeling on this.

It turned out that the background of these erosion processes is only partly based on anthropogenic drivers (climate change or sea level rise), but was triggered by construction activities (tourism, port construction), although the narrative of the ongoing coastal erosion is all too often attributed to climate change today. The authors of the study show that this influence will only become dominant at a later point in time and will then trigger irreversible changes on small islands.


Publication in the journal Nature Communications

To the press release of Leibniz University Hannover