Shoreline change and sea level rise at the Muni-Pomadze coastal wetland (Ramsar site), Ghana

S. Davies-Vollum*, Matthew West

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Lagoon-wetland systems are common along low-lying coastlines. They provide rich species habitats, multiple ecosystem services and socio-economic activities. They are particularly susceptible to the impacts of sea level rise (SLR), especially in less developed countries (LDCs) where economic and development constraints limit adaptation. The Muni-Pomadze lagoon is one of five coastal Ramsar sites in Ghana and one of many along the country’s coastline. It is an intermittently closed lagoon with extreme seasonal hydrological and physico-chemical variation. Field observation, digital mapping and GIS analysis of the shoreline has enabled an understanding of coastal change and SLR at the lagoon. From 1972 to 2014 the high water mark has shifted landwards with an average retreat rate of 0.22 m/year. Evidence of erosion and sediment washover indicate loss of and a shift landward of the sand barrier separating the lagoon from the ocean. Creation of an inundation map for a one-meter rise of sea level reveals fragementation and breaching of the barrier and an increasingly permanent connection to the ocean. A more open lagoon system stabilises hydrological and physico-chemical conditions, leading to increases in biodiversity and aquatic productivity. The lagoon currently has no consideration of SLR in its management plan. The results of this analysis and the limited development of the Muni-Pomadze lagoon support a no intervention approach to coastal management that allows SLR to transform the closed lagoon to an open estuary. A similar approach at comparable coastal wetland systems in Ghana and in other LDCs could prove an effective management option.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-525
JournalJournal of Coastal Conservation
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Sea level rise
  • Shoreline change
  • Ghana
  • Wetlands
  • Africa

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