Coastal Storms is a compilation of scientific and policy-related knowledge related to climate-related extreme events. The authors are internationally recognized experts and their work reflects the most recent science and policy advances in the field.
Coastal Storm Definition
Water Research Laboratory, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UNSW Sydney, Manly Vale, NSW, Australia
Storms represent nature in one of its most energetic and violent states. The word "storm" is synonymous with images of destruction - strong winds lashing at trees and buildings, intense precipitation flooding towns or dumping meters of snow, large seas eroding beaches and coastal properties, and rapid surges in ocean levels inundating entire islands and vast lowland areas. At the same time, storms are essential to human life and an integral part of the global weather and natural ecosystems. Storms help break droughts by delivering much needed water to drought-stricken areas, thereby recharging reservoirs, river systems and underground aquifers. Many ecosystems are also reliant on the episodic arrival of large storms for their rejuvenation after extended periods of calm, stable conditions (e.g. the flushing of hypersaline lagoons due to hurricanes, Tunnell, 2002).
Globally, storms rank as one of the deadliest of all natural hazards (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, 2014). In the decade spanning the years 2004-2013, storms were responsible for over 180,000 deaths worldwide - second in terms of lives lost only to those of earthquakes and tsunamis ( Table 1.1 ). Flooding, including marine flooding as a result of waves and storm surge, were meanwhile responsible for over 60,000 deaths worldwide and rank fourth on this list. In the United States, storms have contributed to the vast majority of monetary losses resulting from natural hazards over the last half century. Hurricanes and tropical storms alone have overwhelmingly been the most costly of all natural hazards, having resulted in a total of US$ 267 billion in monetary losses between the years 1960 and 2014 ( Figure 1.1 ). Severe weather, flooding, tornadoes and miscellaneous coastal hazards (loosely defined as hazards including rip currents, coastal flooding, coastal erosion, strong winds, etc.) have also caused combined losses of US$ 364 billion (Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute, 2015).
Table 1.1 Total number of people killed globally by natural disasters between 2004 and 2013 according to disaster type
Rank Disaster Type Total number of people killed 1 Earthquakes/tsunamis 650,321 2 Storms 183,457 3 Extreme temperatures 72,088 4 Floods 63,207 5 Mass movement: wet 8,739 6 Forest/scrub fires 705 7 Droughts/food insecurity 384 8 Volcanic eruptions 363 9 Mass movement: dry 273 Total 979,537
includes wave and surge events
( Source: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, 2014, p. 226)
Figure 1.1 Total hazard losses in the United States (1960-2014) by hazard type
( Source: Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute, 2015).
There are few regions more vulnerable to storms than the narrow ribbon of the Earth's surface that constitutes the coastal zone. Situated at the interface between land and large water bodies such as oceans, seas and lakes, the coastal zone is a region in constant flux as consolidated and unconsolidate