Rising Seas and Retreating Coasts: Implications for the Arctic

In: The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law
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  • 1 Head of Research, WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute, World Maritime University, Professor, Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS), University of Wollongong, Malmö, Sweden
  • 2 Professor, Faculté de droit, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada

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Abstract

This article addresses both the physical impacts and international legal issues arising from two interlinked stressors on Arctic coastlines: sea level rise and coastal erosion. Key aspects of the legal regime governing the baselines from which coastal States calculate the outer limits of their maritime zones are reviewed and a synopsis of the practice among the Arctic littoral States is provided. The article then turns to a discussion of the practical and international legal responses available to deal with the present and future challenge of rising seas and retreating coasts. The concluding section offers with some reflections on the way forward for a region experiencing some of the most devastating impacts of climate change.