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Environ Sci Process Impacts. 2013 Sep;15(9):1665-70. doi: 10.1039/c3em00313b.

Climate change and adaptational impacts in coastal systems: the case of sea defences.

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  • 1Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland Galway, University Road, Galway, Ireland.


We briefly review how coastal ecosystems are responding to and being impacted by climate change, one of the greatest challenges facing society today. In adapting to rising and stormier seas associated with climate change, coastal defence structures are proliferating and becoming dominant coastal features, particularly in urbanised areas. Whilst the primary function of these structures is to protect coastal property and infrastructure, they inevitably have a significant secondary impact on the local environment and ecosystems. In this review we outline some of the negative and positive effects of these structures on physical processes, impacts on marine species, and the novel engineering approaches that have been employed to improve the ecological value of these structures in recent years. Finally we outline guidelines for an environmentally sensitive approach to design of such structures in the marine environment.

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