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Journal Article

Typology of coastal urban vulnerability under rapid urbanization


Sterzel,  Till
External Organizations;


Lüdeke,  Matthias K. B.
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Walther,  Carsten
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Kok,  M. T.
External Organizations;


Sietz,  Diana
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Lucas,  P. L.
External Organizations;

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Sterzel, T., Lüdeke, M. K. B., Walther, C., Kok, M. T., Sietz, D., Lucas, P. L. (2020): Typology of coastal urban vulnerability under rapid urbanization. - PloS ONE, 15, 1, e0220936.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_23279
Coastal areas are urbanizing at unprecedented rates, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Combinations of long-standing and emerging problems in these urban areas generate vulnerability for human well-being and ecosystems alike. This baseline study provides a spatially explicit global systematization of these problems into typical urban vulnerability profiles for the year 2000 using largely sub-national data. Using 11 indicator datasets for urban expansion, urban population growth, marginalization of poor populations, government effectiveness, exposures and damages to climate-related extreme events, low-lying settlement, and wetlands prevalence, a cluster analysis reveals a global typology of seven clearly distinguishable clusters, or urban profiles of vulnerability. Each profile is characterized by a specific data-value combination of indicators representing mechanisms that generate vulnerability. Using 21 studies for testing the plausibility, we identify seven key profile-based vulnerabilities for urban populations, which are relevant in the context of global urbanization, expansion, and climate change. We show which urban coasts are similar in this regard. Sensitivity and exposure to extreme climate-related events, and government effectiveness, are the most important factors for the huge asymmetries of vulnerability between profiles. Against the background of underlying global trends we propose entry points for profile-based vulnerability reduction. The study provides a baseline for further pattern analysis in the rapidly urbanizing coastal fringe as data availability increases. We propose to explore socio-ecologically similar coastal urban areas as a basis for sharing experience and vulnerability-reducing measures among them.