Journal Article

DSCIM-Coastal v1.1: An open-source modeling platform for global impacts of sea level rise

Depsky, N., Bolliger, I., Allen, D., Choi, J. H., Delgado, M., Greenstone, M., Hamidi, A., Houser, T., Kopp, R. E., and Hsiang, S.

Published July 31, 2023


Sea level rise (SLR) may impose substantial economic costs to coastal communities worldwide, but characterizing its global impact remains challenging because SLR costs depend heavily on natural characteristics and human investments at each location – including topography, the spatial distribution of assets, and local adaptation decisions. To date, several impact models have been developed to estimate the global costs of SLR. Yet, the limited availability of open-source and modular platforms that easily ingest up-to-date socioeconomic and physical data sources restricts the ability of existing systems to incorporate new insights transparently. In this paper, we present a modular, open-source platform designed to address this need, providing end-to-end transparency from global input data to a scalable least-cost optimization framework that estimates adaptation and net SLR costs for nearly 10 000 global coastline segments and administrative regions. Our approach accounts both for uncertainty in the magnitude of global mean sea level (g.m.s.l.) rise and spatial variability in local relative sea level rise. Using this platform, we evaluate costs across 230 possible socioeconomic and SLR trajectories in the 21st century. According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report (AR6), g.m.s.l. is likely to rise during the 21st century by 0.40–0.69 m if late-century warming reaches 2C and by 0.58–0.91 m with 4C of warming (Fox-Kemper et al.2021). With no forward-looking adaptation, we estimate that annual costs of sea level rise associated with a 2 C scenario will likely fall between USD 1.2 and 4.0 trillion (0.1 % and 1.2 % of GDP, respectively) by 2100, depending on socioeconomic and sea level rise trajectories. Cost-effective, proactive adaptation would provide substantial benefits, lowering these values to between USD 110 and USD 530 billion (0.02 and 0.06 %) under an optimal adaptation scenario. For the likely SLR trajectories associated with 4C warming, these costs range from USD 3.1 to 6.9 trillion (0.3 % and 2.0 %) with no forward-looking adaptation and USD 200 billion to USD 750 billion (0.04 % to 0.09 %) under optimal adaptation. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) notes that deeply uncertain physical processes like marine ice cliff instability could drive substantially higher global sea level rise, potentially approaching 2.0 m by 2100 in very high emission scenarios. Accordingly, we also model the impacts of 1.5 and 2.0 m g.m.s.l. rises by 2100; the associated annual cost estimates range from USD 11.2 to 30.6 trillion (1.2 % and 7.6 %) under no forward-looking adaptation and USD 420 billion to 1.5 trillion (0.08 % to 0.20 %) under optimal adaptation. Our modeling platform used to generate these estimates is publicly available in an effort to spur research collaboration and support decision-making, with segment-level physical and socioeconomic input characteristics provided at (Bolliger et al.2023a) and model results at (Bolliger et al.2023b).