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Robert J. Nicholls has studied coastal processes, coastal hazards, and their solution for 25 years and established an international reputation on climate change in coastal areas, especially potential impacts and adaptation responses. A distinctive dimension of his research has been consideration of the coastal zone as a series of interacting systems, an approach that facilitates policy analysis.
He has advised national governments (e.g., the UK, Netherlands, Singapore, Maldives) and intergovernmental organizations (e.g., OECD), including as a lead author on five reports of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change assessment process, and a review editor in the most recent (2014) assessment. He coleads the World Climate Research Program Sea Level Rise Grand Challenge to deliver science in support of impact and adaptation assessment. He is also involved in the following research projects, including as principal investigator: (1) Integrating Coastal Sediment Systems (iCOASST) – a consortium project on predicting decadal coastal morphological evolution; (2) ESPA Deltas – a project of Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA), examining the future of ecosystem services and human well-being in coastal Bangladesh; and (3) Deltas, Vulnerability, and Climate Change: Migration and Adaptation (DECCMA) – examining adaptation to climate change in the Volta, Mahanadi, and Ganges-Brahmaputra Deltas, with a focus on migration.
He was awarded the Roger Revelle Medal by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission in 2008; the award recognizes “outstanding contributions to the ocean sciences by inspired researchers who communicate their knowledge and global vision of the challenges facing our planet in order to shape a better future for humankind.”