An assessment of the physical impacts of sea-level rise and coastal adaptation: a case study of the eastern coast of Ghana

Isaac Boateng

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Sea-level rise is a major coastal issue in the 21st century because many of the world’s built assets are located in the coastal zone. Coastal erosion and flooding are serious threats along the coast of Ghana, particularly, the eastern coast where the Volta delta is located. Past human interventions, climate change and the resultant rise in sea-levels, increased storm intensity and torrential rainfall have been blamed for these problems. Accelerated sea-level rise and storm surge pose serious threat to coastal habitat, bio-diversity and socio-economic activities in the coastal zone of Ghana and elsewhere. There is the need for an holistic assessment of the impacts of sea-level rise on the coast zone in order to formulate appropriate adaptation policies and strategies to mitigate the possible effects. Using the eastern coast of Ghana as a case study, this paper assesses the physical impacts of accelerated sea level rise and storm surge on the coastal environment. It evaluates adaptation policies and plans that could be implemented to accommodate the present and any future impacts. Field investigation and Geographic Information System (GIS) are among the methods used for the assessment. The outcome of the assessment has provided comprehensive knowledge of the potential impacts of accelerated sea-level rise and storm surge on the eastern coast. It has facilitated identification of management units, the appraisal of alternate adaptation policies and the selection of the best policy options based upon the local conditions and environmental sustainability. Among other things, this paper reveals that the eastern coast of Ghana is highly vulnerable to accelerated sea-level rise and therefore, requires sustainable adaptation policies and plans to manage the potential impacts. It recommends that various accommodation policies, which enable areas to be occupied for longer before eventual retreat, could be adapted to accommodate vulnerable settlements in the eastern coast of Ghana.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20
Pages (from-to)273
Number of pages293
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2012


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