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Current and projected global extent of marine built structures


Bugnot, AB and Mayer-Pinto, M and Airoldi, L and Heery, EC and Johnston, EL and Critchley, LP and Strain, EMA and Morris, RL and Loke, LHL and Bishop, MJ and Sheehan, EV and Coleman, RA and Dafforn, KA, Current and projected global extent of marine built structures, Nature Sustainability, 4 pp. 33-41. ISSN 2398-9629 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2020 Nature Publishing Group

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41893-020-00595-1


The sprawl of marine construction is one of the most extreme human modifications to global seascapes. Nevertheless, its global extent remains largely unquantified compared to that on land. We synthesized disparate information from a diversity of sources to provide a global assessment of the extent of existing and projected marine construction and its effects on the seascape. Here we estimated that the physical footprint of built structures was at least 32,000 km2 worldwide as of 2018, and is expected to cover 39,400 km2 by 2028. The area of seascape modified around structures was 1.03.4  106 km2 in 2018 and was projected to increase by 5070% for power and aquaculture infrastructure, cables and tunnels by 2028. In 2018, marine construction affected 1.5% (0.72.4%) of global Exclusive Economic Zones, comparable to the global extent of urban land estimated at 0.021.7%. This study provides a critical baseline for tracking future marine human development.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:artificial structures, spatial planning, urban sprawl
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Climate change impacts and adaptation
Research Field:Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems
UTAS Author:Strain, EMA (Dr Beth Strain)
ID Code:140722
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:82
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2020-09-02
Last Modified:2021-09-20
Downloads:1 View Download Statistics

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