Journal article

Current and projected global extent of marine built structures

AB Bugnot, M Mayer-Pinto, L Airoldi, EC Heery, EL Johnston, LP Critchley, EMA Strain, RL Morris, LHL Loke, MJ Bishop, EV Sheehan, RA Coleman, KA Dafforn

Nature Sustainability | NATURE RESEARCH | Published : 2021


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 1.0–3.4 × 106 km2 in 2018 and was projected to increase by 50–70% for power and aquaculture infrastructure, cable..

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Awarded by Australian Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the Australian Research Council through a Linkage Grant (no. LP140100753) awarded to K.A.D., L.A. and E.L.J. A.B.B. was funded by a Maple Brown Foundation grant awarded to K.A.D. and R.A.C. and an Ian Potter Foundation grant to K.A.D. E.M.A.S. received funding from the World Harbour Project, The Ian Potter Foundation and The New South Wales Government Office of Science and Research. L.A. received funding through the Macquarie University FSE Visiting Researcher Fellowship Scheme. This is Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) publication no. 259.