News ID: 260917
Published: 0328 GMT October 30, 2019

Study: Rising sea levels to destroy homes of 300m people by 2050

Study: Rising sea levels to destroy homes of 300m people by 2050

Rising sea levels are on track to affect about three times more people by 2050 than originally thought. New research suggests that 300 million homes will be affected by coastal flooding in the next 30 years.

And that number could rise to 630 million by the year 2100 if carbon emissions don't decrease. New estimates mean rising seas will cause more damage, cost more money and impact more communities than ever before.

According to a study by Climate Central, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, land housing 300 million people will flood annually by 2050. Additionally, high tides may permanently rise above land that is home to 150 million people, according to CBS News.

Sea level rise is a result of heat-trapping pollution from human activities, which causes ice sheets and glaciers to melt, increasing the volume of water in the oceans. It increases the likelihood of coastal flooding, which can damage infrastructure, destroy crops and threaten entire cities. Based on human activities, sea levels could rise between about 2 and 7 feet during the 21st century, or possibly even more.

The majority of the people affected live in Asia – with the greatest threats facing mainland China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. In those regions, 54 million more people will be affected than previously thought, bringing the total to 237 million people.

"In the decades ahead, sea-level rise could disrupt economies and trigger humanitarian crises around the world," Climate Central said.

Indonesia is already experiencing the effects of increased flooding – the government recently announced plans to move the capital city from Jakarta to Borneo. Jakarta, which sits on the island Java, is the fastest sinking city in the world.

According to a press release, researchers calculated coastal elevation using satellite readings, the standard way to estimate sea-level rise. However, they used artificial intelligence to account for known mistakes in previous NASA models, which tended to overestimate elevation.

"These assessments show the potential of climate change to reshape cities, economies, coastlines, and entire global regions within our lifetimes," said Dr. Scott Kulp, lead author of the study. "As the tideline rises higher than the ground people call home, nations will increasingly confront questions about whether, how much, and how long coastal defenses can protect them."

New analyses reveal that about 110 million people already live on land that falls below the current high tide line – compared to the 28 million previously estimated – likely protect by coastal defenses in some way. 250 million people live on land below current annual flood levels – compared to the 65 million previously thought.

And the new report is still on the optimistic side – it assumes countries meet the deadline for emissions cuts outlined in the Paris agreement. Countries are not currently on track to meet that deadline.



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