WIT Press

Rising Sea Level And Long Term Sustainability Of Near-shore Islands Of The United Arab Emirates: An Approach To Establishing Setback Lines For Abu Dhabi


Free (open access)

Paper DOI






Page Range

135 - 146




516 kb


G. G. Garland


In recent years an important infrastructural and human development focus for the United Arab Emirates has been along the shoreline of its northern coast fronting the Arabian Gulf. The Gulf itself is a large, warm, shallow semi-enclosed body of water with complex oceanography and geomorphological history. Its southern shores, including that of the northern UAE, are predominantly sandy. The value of present infrastructure, especially in the capital city Abu Dhabi, constructed on a number of natural and man-made islands, is enormous, but is already dwarfed by future plans for the next twenty years. It is obvious that for the plans to be both implementable and sustainable, the impacts of future sea level changes must be taken into account. Restricting sea level impact analysis to plotting the slow creep of steadily rising sea level up the shore over several decades is naive and ignores other significant changes in flood risks that accompany rising sea level. These include enhanced coastal erosion, higher extreme tides and waves, elevated low pressure surges and greater wave runup, all of which increase the likelihood of flood occurrence and the degree and intensity of damage. This paper reviews past and future sea level changes in the Arabian Gulf, and demonstrates that, notwithstanding its separation from world oceans, the Gulf sea level tends to respond to global forcing in the same way and within approximately the same time frames as the global oceanic system. The study concludes that from present evidence, the most likely sea level rise scenarios for the Gulf by 2099 lie between 0.21 and 2m. Then, after review of many of the


Arabian Gulf islands, Abu Dhabi, sea level rise, tide and storm surges, Shamal wind, setback lines