Coastal disasters in China: Impacts, risks, and resilience

Jiayi Fang, of Beijing Normal University, China, demonstrated that although marine disaster reduction measures by the Chinese government have been effective, they will face new challenges under climate change.

Jiayi Fang

Jiayi Fang


In the context of global climate change and fast urbanization, coastal disaster risks are expected to rise significantly in China. To date, coastal disaster risk research in China has been fragmented. This research aims to systematically illustrate the current situation of coastal disaster impacts, assessing coastal resilience, then to explore the ability of coastal adaptation options to reduce vulnerabilities and improve coastal resilience.


First, the annual variation and geographic distribution of direct economic losses and casualties caused by marine disasters at provincial level in China were analyzed based on collected multi-source data of marine disaster damage of China from 1989-2014. Second, an indicator system for coastal resilience in China was built from six capitals: human, natural, physical, financial, social, and institutional capital, adapted from resilience framework in the IIASA flood resilience project [1]. Thirty-two indicators and 47 sub-indicators were calculated by using entropy weight to evaluate coastal resilience in 2000 and 2010. Finally, changes in coastal resilience and coastal disaster changes were diagnosed and measured.


i) In the temporal dimension, the direct economic loss induced by coastal disasters showed no obvious trend, but casualties showed an obvious decreased trend from 1989 to 2014 although population has increased rapidly in coastal China; ii) In the marine disaster category, storm surge caused the most economic losses, up to 92.49 %, making disastrous waves the main contribution to casualties since 1998; iii) In the space dimension, Guangzhou, Fujian, and Zhejiang suffered the highest direct economic loss induced by marine disasters, and Zhejiang, Fujian, and Guangdong suffered the highest casualties from 1989 to 2014; iv) Overall, the coastal resilience index increased from 2000 to 2010; the largest increase was in institutional capital, while natural capital decreased.


The results suggest that marine disaster reduction measures by the Chinese government have had a significant effect on marine disaster prevention over the past 25 years. However, coastal China still faces high risks from ecological and slow onset hazards mainly caused by climate change, as well as a great challenge to balancing coastal risks and socioeconomic development. Other ecological and slow onset marine disasters cannot be ignored.


[1] Keating, A, Campbell, K, Mechler, R et al. (2014). Operationalizing Resilience against Natural Disaster Risk: Opportunities, Barriers, and a Way Forward. Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance.


Wei Liu, Risk, Policy and Vulnerability Program, IIASA

David Wiberg, Water Program, IIASA


Jiayi Fang, of Beijing Normal University, China, is a citizen of China. She was funded by the IIASA Chinese National Member Organization and worked in the Risk, Policy and Vulnerability Program during the YSSP.

Please note these Proceedings have received limited or no review from supervisors and IIASA program directors, and the views and results expressed therein do not necessarily represent IIASA, its National Member Organizations, or other organizations supporting the work.

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Last edited: 03 February 2016

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