The Urban Population Living in Low-lying Coastal Zones

Lead PI: Kytt MacManus

Unit Affiliation: Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)

July 2019 - October 2019
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: Urbanization is often analyzed without any spatially explicit framework. Yet many urban settlements are in low‐elevation coastal zones where the residents face increased risk from sea level rise, stronger storms and other seaward hazards induced by climate change. It is therefore important to assess the size of these populations and how they are distributed internationally. Similarly, it is important to gain a better understanding of how coastal settlements are changing, especially in light of the self‐reinforcing and cumulative nature of urban development and the difficulties inherent in shifting the direction of population movements and adapting to increased climate risk. This project will use GIS to calculate the following: The urban land area within the low elevation coastal zone (defined as less than 5m and less than 10m above sea level); The share of the population living within the low elevation coastal zone; The share of the urban population living within the low elevation coastal zone; The number of urban dwellers living within the low elevation coastal zone; and Changes between 1990 and 2015.
These findings will be disaggregated by region and economic status, with country‐level data for a selection of large economies with particularly large populations or population shares in low elevation coastal zones.