The effectiveness of coral reefs for coastal hazard risk reduction and adaptation

Nature Communications
By: , and 

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Abstract

The world’s coastal zones are experiencing rapid development and an increase in storms and flooding. These hazards put coastal communities at heightened risk, which may increase with habitat loss. Here we analyse globally the role and cost effectiveness of coral reefs in risk reduction. Meta-analyses reveal that coral reefs provide substantial protection against natural hazards by reducing wave energy by an average of 97%. Reef crests alone dissipate most of this energy (86%). There are 100 million or more people who may receive risk reduction benefits from reefs or bear hazard mitigation and adaptation costs if reefs are degraded. We show that coral reefs can provide comparable wave attenuation benefits to artificial defences such as breakwaters, and reef defences can be enhanced cost effectively. Reefs face growing threats yet there is opportunity to guide adaptation and hazard mitigation investments towards reef restoration to strengthen this first line of coastal defence.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The effectiveness of coral reefs for coastal hazard risk reduction and adaptation
Series title Nature Communications
DOI 10.1038/ncomms4794
Volume 5
Year Published 2014
Contributing office(s) Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description n3794; 9 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Nature Communications