This research was carried out by the World Bank in 2008. Financial support for this research was provided by the Research Department of the World Bank, and the Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change study administered by the Environment Department of the World Bank. Funding for the Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change study has been provided by the governments of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
An increase in sea surface temperature is strongly evident at all latitudes and in all oceans. The scientific evidence to date indicates that increased sea surface temperature will intensify cyclone activity and heighten storm surges. These surges will, in turn, create more damaging flood conditions in coastal zones and adjoining low-lying areas. The destructive impact will generally be greater when storm surges are accompanied by strong winds and large onshore waves.
In this research, we have considered the potential impact of a large (1-in-100-year) storm surge by contemporary standards, and then compared it with its 10% intensification which is expected to occur in this century.
In modeling the future climate, we took account of changes in sea level rise, geological uplift and subsidence along the world’s coastlines. Geographic Information System (GIS) software has been used to overlay the best available, spatially-disaggregated global data on critical impact elements (Area, population, economic activity (GDP), agricultural land, urban areas, and wetlands), with the inundation zones projected for 84 coastal developing countries.
Producers and sponsors
Susmita Dasgupta, David R. Wheeler, Siobhan Murray and Benoit Laplante
Dates of collection
Mode of data collection
Other forms of data appraisal
Limitations of the research:
1. The relative likelihoods of alternative storm surge scenarios have not been assessed in this research. Following Nicholls et al (2007), a homogeneous future increase of 10% in extreme water levels during tropical storms is assumed. In all likelihood, regions of the world may experience a smaller increase and others a larger increase. Better local modeling of the impact of climate change on storm intensities (with the support of hurricane generator models) is needed to better forecast changes in storm surges.
2. Among the 84 developing countries included in this analysis, our estimation is restricted to coastal segments where historical storm surges have been documented.
3. The absence of a global database on shoreline protection has prevented us from incorporating the effect of existing protection measures (e.g., sea dikes) on exposure estimates.
4. Lack of spatially disaggregated secondary information on indicators prevented us from including small islands in this analysis.
5. The impacts of intensification of storm surges and SLR have been assessed using existing population, socio-economic conditions and patterns of land use, rather than attempting to predict their future states. Human activity is generally increasing more rapidly in coastal areas and thus the impacts of storm surges will be more pronounced in these areas. This effect is countered by adaptation measures (e.g., sea dikes), which we also do not attempt to estimate in this exercise. Adaptation measures from the purely technological (e.g., coastal embankments), to coastal-zone management (e.g., land-use planning, regulations, relocation) are often context, location and community-specific. Thus in our analysis, we refrain from generalizing any adaptive measures across our sub-set of developing countries.
Use of the dataset must be acknowledged using a citation which would include:
- the Identification of the Primary Investigator
- the title of the survey (including acronym and year of implementation)
- the survey reference number
- the source and date of download
Susmita Dasgupta et al., World Bank. Intensification of Storm Surges (ISS) 2008. Ref. WLD_2008_ISS_v01_M. Dataset downloaded from www.microdata.worldbank.org on [date].
Disclaimer and copyrights
The user of the data acknowledges that the original collector of the data, the authorized distributor of the data, and the relevant funding agency bear no responsibility for use of the data or for interpretations or inferences based upon such uses.