Document Type



The exposure of populations to sea-level rise (SLR) is a leading indicator assessing the impact of future climate change on coastal regions. SLR exposes coastal populations to a spectrum of impacts with broad spatial and temporal heterogeneity, but exposure assessments often narrowly define the spatial zone of flooding. Here we show how choice of zone results in differential exposure estimates across space and time. Further, we apply a spatio-temporal flood-modeling approach that integrates across these spatial zones to assess the annual probability of population exposure. We apply our model to the coastal United States to demonstrate a more robust assessment of population exposure to flooding from SLR in any given year. Our results suggest that more explicit decisions regarding spatial zone (and associated temporal implication) will improve adaptation planning and policies by indicating the relative chance and magnitude of coastal populations to be affected by future SLR.

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© The Author(s) 2021 This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit licenses/by/4.0/.

APA Citation

Hauer, M. E., Hardy, D., Kulp, S. A., Mueller, V., Wrathall, D. J., & Clark, P. U. (2021). Assessing population exposure to coastal flooding due to sea level rise. Nature Communications, 12.