The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

A global analysis of human settlement in coastal zones

Small, Christopher and Nicholls, Robert J. (2003) A global analysis of human settlement in coastal zones Journal of Coastal Research, 19, (3), pp. 584-599.

Record type: Article


Recent improvements in mapping of global population distribution makes it possible to estimate the number and distribution of people near coasts with greater accuracy than previously possible, and hence consider the potential exposure of these populations to coastal hazards. In this paper, we combine the updated Gridded Population of the World (GPW2) population distribution estimate for 1990 and lighted settlement imagery with a global digital elevation model (DEM) and a high resolution vector coastline. This produces bivariate distributions of population, lighted settlements and land area as functions of elevation and coastal proximity. The near-coastal population within 100 km of a shoreline and 100 m of sea level was estimated as 1.2 X 10(9) people with average densities nearly 3 times higher than the global average density. Within the near coastal-zone, the average population density diminishes more rapidly with elevation than with distance, while the opposite is true of lighted settlements. Lighted settlements are concentrated within 5 km of coastlines worldwide, whereas average population densities are higher at elevations below 20 m throughout the 100 km width of the near-coastal zone. Presently most of the near-coastal population live in relatively densely-populated rural areas and small to medium cities, rather than in large cities. A range of improvements are required to define a better baseline and scenarios for policy analysis. Improving the resolution of the underlying population data is a priority.

PDF 39496.pdf - Version of Record
Restricted to Repository staff only
Download (4MB)

More information

Published date: 2003
Keywords: coastal population, coastal hazards, exposure, vulnerability


Local EPrints ID: 39496
ISSN: 0749-0208
PURE UUID: 4bc391d9-ecc7-4fbd-b90f-613c3b186501

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 28 Jun 2006
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 15:36

Export record

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.