Spanish data base is new tool to assess possible impact of sea level rise

Latin American and Caribbean countries could improve coastal planning and develop preventive measures to adapt to the effects of climate change using the data base launched this week by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment, University of Cantabria and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the commission said.

The database contains information on coastal dynamics in Latin America and the Caribbean, climate variability, coastal vulnerability and exposure to climate change, the impact of climate change in the area and an estimation of predictable risks in the future.

The results will make it possible to estimate the potential effects of the rise in sea level on the region’s coasts, using historical satellite and buoy information since 1950 and projections for the 21st century.

It combines variables such as annual rise in sea level, changes in wind direction, significant changes in wave height, erosion and changes in sediment dynamics. This makes it possible to georeference the impacts over a detailed area five kilometers wide and 30 kilometers long on the region’s coast.

The data base is part of the project Effects of climate change on the coast of Latin America and the Caribbean, which is being implemented by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment, University of Cantabria and the commission, which have an agreement to transfer, apply and update the results of the initiative.

The project consists in a series of documents and a support database including a web viewer. This data base is available for all interested users.

The potential of this tool is relevant for territorial planning, engineering requirements and environmental impact evaluation procedures, the commission said. It is also useful for the infrastructure sector, for the adjustments that need to be made to existing works and for future requirements, it added.

The database was presented at the annual meeting of the Ibero-American Network of Climate Change Offices in Santiago, Chile.

The event brings together representatives from climate change offices in Iberoamerican countries, as well as from various international and regional agencies developing projects and activities to adapt to climate change.

According to the recently presented fifth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the impact of this climatic phenomenon is unmistakable throughout the world, with Latin America and the Caribbean being one of the most vulnerable regions, particularly in coastal areas with a large concentration of population and activity.

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