Our Hotspots

Future Earth Coasts has identified critical coastal systems that are particularly vulnerable to change. Particular features of these hotspots are critical to the sustainability of coastal socio-ecological systems.

Small Islands are vulnerable to climate-related extreme weather events, sea-level rise, and risk of inundation among others. Residents of small islands often face issues of resource depletion, decreased ecological diversity e.g. in coral reefs, mangroves, which require management strategies that aim to increase social and ecological resilience by putting livelihoods and ecosystem health at the forefront.

Urbanisation is now happening at faster rates than ever before, and the most rapid urbanisation is taking place on the coast. This process is shaping human well-being and ecological integrity today and acquiring new urgency with rapid migration to coastal megacities and urban areas.

The Arctic coasts are undergoing rapid change on many fronts, with climate warming driving the fast reduction of sea ice, loss of land-based ice, permafrost degradation, accelerated coastal erosion, among others. These changes are damaging infrastructure, and inhibiting access to food, with negative impacts on traditional lifestyles, health and wellbeing. Vulnerable Arctic coastal communities need transformative strategies and enhanced capacity to adapt and transition to safer futures.

River mouth systems such as deltas and estuaries are extremely important ecologically and economically. These areas provide a wide variety of ecosystem goods and services such as fisheries, avian habitat, agricultural land, and storm protection. These systems are at risk from climate change and sea-level rise, as well as direct detrimental human impacts through river damming, groundwater extraction, and increased fluxes of nutrients and contaminants which negatively impact the wellbeing of ecosystems and human health.