Predicting coastal changes on a changing planet

November 15, 2007

Boulder, CO, USA -Geoscientists are beginning to unravel the complex web of interactions among climate change and geological processes that alters coastlines on which a sizeable percentage of Earth's inhabitants live. As debates over sustainable coastal development heat up, a new publication from the Geological Society of America focuses on development of integrated predictive computer models of coastal change.

Coastline Changes: Interrelation of Climate and Geological Processes reflects the many forces at work in coastal change. They include sea-level rise due to melting glaciers, depletion of groundwater reservoirs, and thermal expansion of gradually warming ocean water. Some of the underlying contributing factors include greenhouse gas additions to the atmosphere, vertical tectonic motions, sedimentary processes, and changes in atmospheric pressure systems and ocean currents, waves, and tides.

"Sea level and coastline change is an increasingly important issue for people living along the edge of Earth's oceans and seas," said William W. Hay, University of Colorado (emeritus), Boulder, Colorado, USA, co-editor of the volume. "The influence of coastal change on humankind is not a new phenomenon, however, and understanding the past provides a key to modeling future change."

Hay, along with lead editor Jan Harff, Baltic Sea Research Institute, Rostock, Germany, and co-editor Daniel Tetzlaff, Schlumberger Information Solutions, Houston, Texas, USA, emphasizes that coastal protection and sustainable development must take into account natural driving forces of change and socioeconomic reactions to those changes. Long-term projections are needed to support effective long-term coastal planning. According to Hay, "These can be facilitated through models based on reconstruction of past sequences of events and projection of process interactions, which operate at different time scales, into the future."

According to Hay, inspiration for the book came from a session on past and future coastal change held at the 32nd International Geological Congress held in Florence, Italy, in August 2004.

Papers in the first section explore models of coastal change and the forces driving it. Papers in the second part examine effects of coastal change in specific areas including the Arctic, Baltic Sea, North Sea, Black Sea, Sinius Peninsula (western Sardinia, Italy), and Pearl River Delta (China).
Individual copies may be purchased through the Geological Society of America online bookstore ( or by contacting GSA Sales and Service,

Book editors of earth science journals/publications may request a review copy by contacting Jeanette Hammann,

Coastline Changes: Interrelation of Climate and Geological Processes
Jan Harff, William W. Hay, and Daniel M. Tetzlaff (eds.)
Geological Society of America Special Paper 426
2007, 214 pages, US$50.00, GSA member price US$35.00
ISBN 978-0-8137-2426-3

Geological Society of America

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