CR 09:57-65 (1997)  -  DOI:

Assessment of the vulnerability of Venezuela to sea-level rise

María de Lourdes Olivo*

Dirección General Sectorial de Planificación y Ordenación del Ambiente, Ministerio del Ambiente y de los Recursos Naturales Renovables, El Silencio, Centro Simón Bolívar, Torre Sur, piso 9, Caracas, Venezuela

The goal of this study is to assess the vulnerability of 5 sectors of the coast of Venezuela to potential sea-level rise using the methodology proposed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Sea-level rise resulting from thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of glaciers is viewed as one of the main impacts of climate changes. A 0.5 m rise scenario for the year 2100 was used for this study. A modified version of the Brunn Rule was used to estimate land loss due to erosion. Land loss due to inundation was considered for the case of lowlands. According to the assessments performed, land loss due to erosion in the 5 coastal areas chosen for the study (20.07 km2) would be less than that due to inundation (52.63 km2). Oil infrastructure, urban areas, and tourist infrastructure, all of which are essential to the national economy, would be affected. The areas with more population at risk would be the Costa Oriental del Lago de Maracaibo (eastern coast of Maracaibo Lake) and Costa Oriental del Estado Falcón (eastern coast of Falcón State). The former has the highest capital value at risk, followed by Barcelona-Puerto La Cruz-Guanta. Assuming a 'No Protection' response and a 0.5 m sea-level rise, approximately 131.13 km2 would be lost. If the 'Important Areas Protection' option was implemented, only 86.16 km2 (US$ 15000 million) would be lost. The vulnerability of these coastal areas could be reduced by more appropriate planning and management.

Venezuela · Climate change · Sea-level rise · Land loss · Coastal erosion · Coastal inundation

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