Resilience of Infrastructure Systems to Sea-Level Rise in Coastal Areas: Impacts, Adaptation Measures, and Implementation Challenges

Beatriz Azevedo de Almeida and Ali Mostafavi
Created: 3/09/2021 -


Expansive areas of low elevation in many densely populated coastal areas are at elevated risk of storm surges and flooding due to torrential precipitation, as a result of sea level rise. These phenomena could have catastrophic impacts on coastal communities and result in the destruction of critical infrastructure, disruption of economic activities and salt water contamination of the water supply. The objective of the study presented in this paper was to identify various impacts of sea level rise on civil infrastructures in coastal areas and examine the adaptation measures suggested in the existing literature. To this end, a systemic review of the existing literature was conducted in order to identify a repository of studies addressing sea level rise impacts and adaptation measures in the context of infrastructure systems. The study focused on three infrastructure sectors: water and wastewater, energy, and road transportation. The collected information was then analyzed in order to identify different categories of sea level rise impacts and corresponding adaptation measures. The findings of the study are threefold: (1) the major categories of sea level rise impacts on different infrastructure systems; (2) measures for protection, accommodation, and retreat in response to sea level rise impacts; and (3) challenges related to implementing adaptation measures.

Published On


Adaptation Phase
Multilateral / Transboundary
Sector Addressed
Transportation / Infrastructure
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Capacity Building
Increase / Improve public awareness, education, and outreach efforts
Infrastructure, Planning, and Development
Infrastructure retrofitting and improvements
Stormwater systems: retrofitting and improvements
Sewage systems: retrofitting and improvements
Transportation: retrofitting and improvements
Water supply: retrofitting and improvements
Buildings: retrofitting and improvements
Managed retreat of built infrastructure, relocation of people/communities
Make infrastructure resistant or resilient to climate change
Governance and Policy
Maintain adequate financial resources for adaptation
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Salinization / Saltwater intrusion
Sea level rise
Habitat/Biome Type
Sociopolitical Setting