Addressing future uncertainties in coastal areasan innovative process to support decision-making for climatic change adaptation based on participatory foresight, artificial intelligence and prospective spatial risk assesment

  1. Rocío Carrero Gómez
Supervised by:
  1. Fátima Navas Director

Defence university: Universidad Pablo de Olavide

Fecha de defensa: 18 December 2015

  1. Gonzalo Malvárez Chair
  2. Carlos Manuel Pereira da Silva Secretary
  3. Helena Calado Committee member
  1. Geografía, Historia y Filosofía

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 395025 DIALNET lock_openRIO editor


To date 44% of the world's population lives within 150 kilometers of the coast. Given the socio-economic growth and urban development trends, it is a widespread assumption that climate change will have severe impacts on coastal areas, being sea-level rise a threat of special concern due to the expected magnitude of its impacts. Despite the urgency of moving towards climate change adaptation has been widely recognized in the recent years, significant barriers exist. One major handicap is the necessity to handle the many uncertainties surrounding future conditions and include them into the planning process. Another major obstacle is that it can be challenging for society to care about events that may take place decades from now, let alone fully understand their potential impact. Taking into account these challenges, this thesis aims to contribute to the field of climate change adaptation on coastal areas by providing transferable, participatory and foresight-based tools, to address future uncertainties on coastal areas as well as help to communicate the potential impacts of climate change and generate awareness among communities. A threefold process is proposed to : i) develop a replicable methodology to create explorative, participative, locally-based future scenarios; ii) translate a selected scenario into geospatial data through the use of Artificial Intelligence models; and iii) spatially assess the potential impacts of future sea-level rise combined with an extreme event on a future scenario. The methods have been tested on a pilot site, involving over 60 stakeholders, including local communities, governments, private and public institutions and informal organizations. Results show the threefold process proposed in this thesis could be a valuable tool to assist decision-making on the context of climate change adaptation on coastal areas at the local scale. In particular, it could help to: enhance stakeholders¿ engagement and increase awareness on present and future challenges; assess and visualize future impacts of climate change integrating physical and socio-economic systems; acting as a triggering point for climate change adaptation initiatives; and contributing to co-generate knowledge, promoting a multi-directional dialogue between the research community and society. Further research is encouraged to explore the transferability of the process to other sites as well as to develop further theoretical and practical applications of the methodological approaches hereby presented.