Coastal flooding around the world set to rise 50% over 80 years: Study

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New Delhi (NVI): Coastal flooding around the world is set to increase by about 50 per cent over the next 80 years due to climate change, according to a new study.

The study, published in Springer Nature’s Scientific Reports, flashes spotlight on the social and financial impact of climate change, and was led by the University of Melbourne and involving the University of East Anglia (UEA).

According to the study, the worst affected area will be north-west Europe particularly vulnerable to rising flood risk, while other hotspots include Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Bangladesh, south-east Africa and North America.

The researchers administrated climate change scenarios where carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere continue to rise rapidly and found that the flooding, due to the melting of polar ice, would endanger millions of people.

The land area exposed to an extreme flood event will increase by more than 2,50,000
square kilometres—by 2100 globally, if climate change climbs by the high emissions scenario, outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This would take the total land exposed to 8,19,000 sq km, the study stated.

In total, an additional 77 million more people will be at risk of experiencing flooding, a rise of 52 per cent to 225 million. This would also threaten an area with an economy worth up to USD 14.2 trillion, as per the estimates.

Lead author and PhD candidate at University of Melbourne, Ebru Kirezci said, “A warming climate is driving sea level rise because water expands as it warms, and glaciers are melting. Climate change is also increasing the frequency of extreme seas which will further increase the risk of flooding.”

The study, however, does not take into account existing flood defences that are in places like northern Europe, already providing significant protection.

But researchers warn that the extent of the increased risk showed how vulnerable large parts of the world will become unless appropriate action is taken.

Furthemore, the study found that close to 68 per cent of the coastal area likely to be flooded will be caused by tide and storm events, while only 32 per cent will be caused by regional sea level rises.

“Our research shows that large parts of communities residing in low-lying coastal areas are at risk of being devastated so we need urgent action,” said Kirezci.

However, the vulnerable areas needed to start building coastal defences, and that there was a need to increase preparedness to mitigate climate change.

-RJV