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Global distribution of coastal cliffs

TitleGlobal distribution of coastal cliffs
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsYoung A.P, Carilli JE
Date Published2019/05
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0197-9337
Accession NumberWOS:000467077300007
KeywordsCoastal cliff; data; database; elevation data; erosion; field; Geology; global; mangrove forests; Physical Geography; recession rates; retreat rate; rock coast

Previous studies have estimated that coastal cliffs exist on about 80% of the global shoreline, but have not been validated on a global scale. This study uses two approaches to capture information on the worldwide existence and erosion of coastal cliffs: a detailed literature survey and imagery search, and a GIS-based global mapping analysis. The literature and imagery review show coastal cliffs exist in 93% of the combined recognized independent coastal states and non-independent coastal regions worldwide (total of 213 geographic units). Additionally, cliff retreat rates have been quantified in at least one location within 33% of independent coastal states and 15% of non-independent regions. The GIS-based mapping used the near-global Shuttle Radar Topography Mission 3 arc second digital elevation model and Arctic Coastal Dynamics Database to obtain near-global backshore coastal elevations at 1 km alongshore intervals comprising about 1,340,000 locations (81% of the world vector shoreline). Backshore coastal elevations were compared with the mapped distribution of European coastal cliffs to produce a model training set, and this relationship was extended globally to map the likelihood of coastal cliff locations. About 21% of the transects (17% of the world vector shoreline) were identified as mangroves and eliminated as potential cliff locations. The results were combined with estimates of cliff percentages for Greenland and Antarctica from the literature, extending the global coverage to estimate cliff occurrence across 89% of the world vector shoreline. The results suggest coastal cliffs likely exist on about 52% of the global shoreline. (c) 2018 The Authors. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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