Climate Change and Changing Coasts Geophysical and Jurisdictional Implications of Sea Level Rise for Pacific Island States
Sea level rise has provoked widespread concerns that low-lying parts of coastal States including parts or even the entirety of small island developing States face a looming threat of erosion and inundation. Concerns over the potential impacts of sea level rise on the location of baselines along the coast and therefore on the scope of national claims to maritime jurisdiction have also been raised. The article outlines climate change impacts on the oceans before briefly reviewing projections of sea level rise. A number of the complexities and uncertainties which make prediction of the scale and speed of global sea level rise problematic are highlighted. The importance of assessing relative sea level against the contrasting responses of coasts with diverse geophysical characteristics and distinct coastal ecosystems is emphasised. Potential impacts on island coastlines in the Pacific are then considered and implications maritime claims discussed.