Introduction

When faced with the issues of climate change and the Caspian Sea level rise (CSLR), decision-makers are unable to wait for scientific uncertainties to be resolved before taking action. The Caspian Sea level rise predictions are complicated by the complex non-linear nature of the climate system and long-term dependence on human choices. This study analyzes the regulatory and institutional structure surrounding coastal zone management in the Anzali Lagoon District in the north of Iran, in order to identify barriers to and opportunities for the Caspian Sea level rise response.

Viewing the problem from a resilience perspective proves valuable as it builds off the social-ecological system concept, embraces change, and attempts to find ways to coexist with uncertainty. The selection of non-catastrophic Caspian Sea level rise scenarios and the creation of a variety of high-resolution, location-specific, inundation maps are used to identify areas of vulnerability. Focusing on local government, four potential sea level rise response options are identified along with associated barriers.

• Increase the update frequency for floodplain maps to more accurately reflect environmental changes.

• Include consideration of a dynamic shoreline when making shoreline armoring, cumulative impacts, and no net loss of ecological function determinations.

• Use shoreline designations in the Shoreline Management Act to tailor responses to the coastal environment.

• Leverage the Guilan Province in the north of Iran, consistency and funding provisions of the Coastal Zone Management Act to enhance response options.

The long-term nature of the Caspian Sea level rise issue provides response opportunities not available in other arenas. By using the tools currently available, local decision-makers can limit the response costs and create a more robust policy

I. Dincer et al. (eds.), Global Warming, Green Energy and Technology,

DOI 10.1007/978-1-4419-1017-2_32, © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

framework capable of incorporating uncertainty and adapting to the Caspian Sea level rise.

Sea levels are rising even faster than scientists predicted, according to a global analysis of data from tide gauges and satellites. The researchers say the study puts to bed claims that climate scientists have exaggerated the consequences of global warming. And because the study shows that sea level is responding even faster than expected, the work suggests governments have even less time to act in order to combat climate change. In the 1990s it was estimated that 21 and 37% of the global population lived within 30 and 100 km, respectively, of the coast (Cohen, 2005). Population densities in coastal areas are three times the global mean, and it is estimated that 50% of the world's population will live within 100 km of the coast by 2030 (Sarewitz et al., 2003). Human settlements, including many large cities, are also concentrated near or on coastlines, and a large proportion of global economic productivity derives from coastal areas (Titus, 1998). Trends toward urbanization are likely to increase population densities in low-lying coastal areas; the population living within 30 km of the coast is estimated to be growing at twice the global average reflecting coastward migration, and GDP growth in coastal areas exceeds the national average in many countries (Adger, 2000). Coastal zones are, therefore, of great importance as zones of settlement and play a vital role in the economic well-being of many nations. Natural disasters become one of the most severe problems at the coastal area. In particular, low-lying areas, which are strongly affected by flooding or by active processes of shoreline erosion and sedimentation, pose the most serious consequences for local communities and tourists (Nicholls and Hoozemans, 2005). Functions and values of the coastal system have been degraded, and public safety and economy have been impacted. These problems could be accentuated due to rapidly increasing population pressures, which often lead to inconsiderate or poorly planned development in natural hazard-prone areas and potential scenarios of climate change/relative sea level rise.

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