Failure to consider the costs of adaptation strategies can be seen by decision makers as a barrier to implementing coastal protection measures. In order to validate adaptation strategies to sea-level rise in the form of coastal protection, a consistent and repeatable assessment of the costs is necessary. This paper significantly extends current knowledge on cost estimates by developing - and implementing using real coastal dike data - probabilistic functions of dike costs. Data from Canada and the Netherlands are analysed and related to published studies from the US, UK, and Vietnam in order to provide a reproducible estimate of typical sea dike costs and their uncertainty. We plot the costs divided by dike length as a function of height and test four different regression models. Our analysis shows that a linear function without intercept is sufficient to model the costs, i.e. fixed costs and higher-order contributions such as that due to the volume of core fill material are less significant. We also characterise the spread around the regression models which represents an uncertainty stemming from factors beyond dike length and height. Drawing an analogy with project cost overruns, we employ log-normal distributions and calculate that the range between 3x and x/3 contains 95% of the data, where x represents the corresponding regression value. We compare our estimates with previously published unit costs for other countries. We note that the unit costs depend not only on the country and land use (urban/non-urban) of the sites where the dikes are being constructed but also on characteristics included in the costs, e.g. property acquisition, utility relocation, and project management. This paper gives decision makers an order of magnitude on the protection costs, which can help to remove potential barriers to develop-ing adaptation strategies. Although the focus of this research is sea dikes, our approach is applicable and transferable to other adaptation measures.

%G eng %R DOI: 10.5194/nhess-17-765-2017