Extreme Storm Events as Threats to Coastal Communities: A Study of Big Wave Bay Using Map and Aerial Photo Information

Tsan Lok Wong, Hon Chim Chiu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Throughout Hong Kong’s history, development along its coast has always been a central feature in its urban growth. Coastal communities are invariably affected by coastal hazards. Big Wave Bay is a small coastal village on the southeastern coast of Hong Kong Island. Although it has a long history of human development, traditional activities are still practiced today. Also, the village as one of the most exposed beaches in Hong Kong and has always been affected by coastal hazards including typhoons and storm surges. When one of the authors first studied Big Wave Bay in 2008, there was a well-developed sand dune behind its beach that acted as a natural protective barrier. In 2018, storm surges generated by Super Typhoon Mangkhut completely destroyed its dune system. Even before that, the increased frequency of extreme weather events and rising mean sea levels caused by global climate change contributed to the dune’s destruction. As a result, buildings and facilities along Big Wave Bay’s shore have also been destroyed.
Using an almost complete set of historical maps and aerial photographs that contain useful information on the evolution of Big Wave Bay over 150 years, the authors show, for the first time, the current trend of the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events affecting Hong Kong. In the case of Big Wave Bay, unprecedented sea level rises and coastal storms have permanently changed its coastline. Its future evolution will require a reconsideration of the management strategies implemented to ensure the resilience of Hong Kong’s coastal communities.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
Specialist publicationSurveying and Built Environment
PublisherThe Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Coastal villages
  • Coastal communities
  • Coastal hazards
  • Old village development
  • Storms and typhoons
  • Extreme events
  • Sand dunes
  • Sea level rise
  • Climate change


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