loading ...

What to visualize?


A Benefit Gap in coastal risk reduction can be measured as the exposure to coastal hazards, the magnitude of exposure still remaining after the attenuation of storm surge by any coastal habitat.

How to read these maps

These maps display high resolution global datasets for 4 metrics of interest: Benefit Gap (the potential benefit not provided by nature), People Exposed (to the benefits or benefit gaps), Maximum Potential Benefit (arising from human stressors and/or physical conditions), and Nature's Contribution (to providing potential benefits). When a metric is selected, a short description will appear below. Please refer to the modeling method for further details on each metric.

The bottom map displays the baseline data (year 2015), and the top map shows the change (by 2050).

To select a scenario (SSPs, 2050), as well as which metric to visualize, click on its name in the menu on the left panel.

Coastal Risk

Coastal risk

Coastal habitats such as coral reefs, mangroves, salt marsh, or sea grass, attenuate waves and protect the shorelines from the impacts of storms, such as floods and erosion.

Modeling method

Modeling Method

NCP Framework

Nature's Contributions to People (NCP) Framework

The contribution that nature makes to potential benefits is a function of the amount and configuration of biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as with other drivers and stressors placed on the natural system such as climate change or pollution from anthropogenic inputs (e.g., fertilizer run-off). However, these biophysical measures indicating potential benefits may or may not coincide with where and how much people depend on the benefits from nature. Thus, the additional consideration of which populations are most dependent on nature’s role in delivering benefits is critical to establishing where these potential benefits and nature’s contributions to providing them matter to people.

Coastal Framework

Coastal Framework

The maximum potential (mitigation) benefit for coastal risk reduction is the physical exposure to coastal hazards (based on wind, waves, sea level rise, geomorphology, etc) that requires attenuation – which can be thought of as the risk in the absence of coastal habitat like coral reefs or mangroves. People living either nearest to the shoreline or between 0 and 10 m above sea level are considered to be the population exposed, since these are the people most susceptible to flooding, especially with sea level rise. The potential benefit provided by nature is the degree to which that risk is mitigated, and nature’s contribution is the proportion of that coastal storm risk reduced by ecosystems.

The potential benefits provided by nature, which are often called “ecosystem services” (but should be thought of as the potential supply of a service, and only truly becomes a service when combined with human demand for the service) may be measured in terms of kilometers of coastline protected or the change in risk index resulting from the presence of coastal habitat. We emphasize that a proportional representation of nature’s contribution to providing potential benefits is important to track differences or changes across space and time; as realized benefits provided by nature could increase alongside (or due to) increases in maximum potential benefits or population exposed, though nature’s contributions may remain the same. That is, if climate change puts more coastline at risk, a constant proportional contribution of nature would result in higher levels of the corresponding realized benefits, coastal risk mitigation, even if conditions for people (in terms of coastal hazards) deteriorate. The relative proportion of nature’s contribution, along with people’s needs, especially for the most vulnerable people, are more useful metrics than realized benefits alone when considering change across several variables at once (stressors, people, and nature), as they reveal where and when nature plays a key role in delivering benefits.

We also examine the benefits not provided by nature, or benefit gaps, people depend upon for their well-being (which could be filled to some extent by other forms of capital, e.g., infrastructure), and the populations exposed to changes in benefit gaps for each NCP in future scenarios. We use unmitigated coastal risk (risk remaining after the attenuation of waves, wind and storm surge by any coastal habitat) as the measure of the benefit gap for coastal risk reduction. This benefit gap results in the outcomes people will actually face and perceive – coastal hazards, in this case— and is what will determine people’s well-being, the visible component of NCP. It does not by itself, however, reveal the role nature plays in contributing to that well-being.

Modeling Coastal Risk Reduction

To estimate Nature’s Contribution to People (NCP) in terms of coastal risk reduction, specifically attenuation of storm surge and related risks, exposure to coastal risk is assessed through a ranked index based on a variety of different physical factors determining the exposure of a piece of coastline to storm surge, and the contribution of coastal habitats (such as coral reefs, mangroves, sea grass and saltmarsh) to mitigating that risk is considered in terms of the difference in coastal risk with and without that habitat present. Our model for the contribution of coastal habitat to storm surge mitigation is based on the variant of the InVEST Coastal Vulnerability model (Arkema, 2013), which produces a qualitative index of coastal exposure to erosion and inundation in the range of 1 (lowest risk) to 5 (highest risk). Coastal exposure is estimated as the geometric mean of individual risk indices calculated from six bio-geophysical variables: natural habitats, sea level change, wind exposure, wave exposure, relief, and surge potential depth contour.

We use these outputs along with populations along coastlines and living less than 10 meters above sea level to determine humanity’s needs and nature’s contributions, as the dual components of NCP


All data displayed is publicly available here

Full methods will be available upon publication, in the Supplementary information of Chaplin-Kramer et al (2019)


  • S. Diaz et al., Science. 359, 270–272 (2018).
  • S. Diaz et al., Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain. 14, 1–16 (2015).
  • U. Pascual et al., Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain. 26, 7–16 (2017).
  • I. M. D. Rosa et al., Multiscale scenarios for nature futures. Nat. Ecol. Evol. 1, 1416–1419 (2017).
  • See InVEST NDR User's Guide for detailed explanation on the model.