Sea-level rise due to climate change creates new risks of submersion in coastal areas that must be taken into account. Although these are long-term risks for 2100, it is important to anticipate possible consequences in order to identify the most vulnerable areas or issues and develop the appropriate adaptation policies. The aim of this paper is to examine the consequences of such sea-level rise for wetlands in the Languedoc-Roussillon region (France) which is particularly at risk of submersion. The analysis is based on the worst case scenario of a one meter sea level rise by 2100, with a variety of adaptive strategies: denial, laissez-faire and strategic retreat of infrastructure and buildings. This latter strategy assumes that the retreat wetlands is unconstrained. The evaluation examines the losses and transformations of ecological habitats, depending on their distance from salt water. Estimating damages and benefits requires first, to study the evolution of the services supplied by different habitats and second, to estimate the value of the economic impact. This approach demonstrates the superiority of a strategic retreat policy which would halve the damages resulting from submersion.
Evaluating the impacts of sea level rise on coastal wetlands in Languedoc-Roussillon, France
9 March 2016