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3.1.4. Coastal and marine hazards

Changes in relative and extreme sea level, storm surges and wave heights affect coastal hazards such as inundation, flooding and erosion as well as marine hazards. This is of relevance for coastal and for offshore infrastructure.

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Global and European sea levels have risen significantly since 1900. Global sea level rise has accelerated from earlier rates of 1.2-1.7mm per year over the 20th century to at least 3 mm per year in recent decades (EEA, 2017c). Within Europe, most coastal regions have experienced, and will continue to experience, an increase in absolute and relative sea level. Geographical variations occur as a result of local land subsidence or rise, coastal morphology, changes in wind and wave regimes, and other factors (EEA, 2017c; Vousdoukas et al., 2017).

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Trends of increased wave heights in winter have been recorded in the North Atlantic and are affecting coastlines in Western Europe (Castelle et al., 2018). Projections of the future contribution of climate extremes (storm surges and wave heights) to extreme sea level suggest an increase along the North Sea, British and Baltic Sea coasts, mixed changes in the Mediterranean and decreases along the Norwegian coast and the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula (Vousdoukas et al., 2017).

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