How runaway sea level rise could one day swamp the world’s biggest cities

Hundreds of millions of people around the world are living in places that could eventually be submerged by rising sea levels triggered by unchecked climate change, new global maps suggest.

An estimated 627 million people live in these places, including about 1.9 million in Australia and many more in the world’s great metropolises such as Tokyo, New York and Shanghai.

The rising seas won’t happen overnight, nor in anybody’s current lifetime. The global mapping project, carried out by the US group Climate Central, is based on huge sea-level rises that would not emerge for another 200 to 2000 years.

A report that accompanies the maps, released on Monday, says this future would be locked in if global warming reached four degrees by 2100 – considered likely if the current level of emissions continued unabated.

The project is based on a scientific paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA in October. That analysis – carried out by researchers at Climate Central – found that four degrees of warming could lock-in 8.9 metres of long-term sea level rise in the centuries to follow.

If warming was held to two degrees by strong emissions cuts – the goal of a new global climate agreement countries are negotiating through the United Nations – then the rise would be more like 4.7 metres. About 280 million people live in areas below that watermark.

Across Australia, the analysis finds there are about 1.9 million people living in areas that would be submerged if there was an 8.9 metre rise in sea level. At 4.7 metres, it is 668,000 people.

In central Melbourne, the maps based on what is locked in with four degrees of warming suggests significant inundation of prized bay-side suburbs and throughout Docklands.

The Age: Tom Arup: 9 Nov 2015

Key Words: Climate Change, risks
Feedback Reigns Home Page

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.