Climate Change

Coastal flooding set to rise 50% over 80 yrs: Study

It could threaten assets worth 20% of global GDP, amounting to $14.2 trillion

 
By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Friday 31 July 2020
Coastal flooding set to rise 50% over 80 years. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Coastal flooding is set to rise by about 50 per cent over the next 80 years and could threaten assets worth 20 per cent of global gross domestic product, according to a recent study.

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

The land area exposed to an extreme flood event will increase by more than 250,000 square kilometres globally — an increase of 48 per cent or over 800,000 sq km, stated the study.

This would mean about 77 million more people will be at risk of experiencing flooding, a rise of 52 per cent to 225 million.

This would threaten an area with an economy worth up to $14.2 trillion, according to the estimates.

“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,” said Ebru Kirezci, lead author and PhD candidate at University of Melbourne.

The analysis, however, does not take into account of existing flood defences that in places like northern Europe already provide 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.

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.

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

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