Coastal — relative sea level

More than one third of the European population lives in coastal regions. Low-lying countries, islands and communities know from experience that rising sea levels are a major climate hazard. Higher relative sea levels and corresponding storm surges threaten property, infrastructure and lives. They can lead to coastal erosion and make surface water and groundwater unusable through saltwater intrusion, with knock-on effects for agriculture and coastal and land ecosystems. Local sea level rise can be strongly affected by human activities, such as groundwater extraction or soil compaction from buildings. Understanding all this is crucial not only for coastal planning, ecosystem management and protection but also for putting in place measures to protect transport, energy and other infrastructure.

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Coastal — coastal floods

Driven by rising sea levels, tidal swings and storm surges, coastal floods are a growing threat to buildings, energy and transport infrastructure, water supplies and human lives. Coastal defences (walls, breakwaters, artificial headlands) are generally designed to withstand sea levels within historical ranges (e.g. ‘once-in-a hundred-years’ floods). Projected changes in the frequency and intensity of coastal floods are a major threat to ecosystems and the population in low-lying coastal areas in northern and western Europe.

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