Sea Level Rise and Risk In The Big Cities

by | Mar 21, 2023 | Global Warming

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Rising sea level is the biggest concern for most countries. No amount of quick action will be able to change the situation, says IPCC. According to the analysis, sea levels might rise by up to 1.1 meters by the year 2100. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has said in another research that between 2013 and 2022, the average sea level rise will be 4.5 millimeters each year. It will be more than three times the pace between 1901 and 1971.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2020, the number of people exposed to rising sea levels is 190 million (threefold larger than previously estimated). The reason for this is the faster-than-expected melting of polar ice caps.

There are many cities in the world that are at risk of sinking because of sea level rises. Bangkok ranks first in terms of susceptibility in the 2050 climate change index. Mumbai, India, with a 7,516.6 km coastline and a population of roughly 22 million, is one of the numerous cities across the world that would be most affected by rising sea levels. Shanghai, Dhaka, Bangkok, Jakarta, Maputo, Lagos, Cairo, London, Copenhagen, New York, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, and Santiago are among the other cities in danger.

In many regions of the planet, the land is sinking faster than the rising sea. Sections of Tokyo, for example, dropped four meters over the twentieth century, with sinking of two meters or more reported in Shanghai, Bangkok, and New Orleans. This process of sinking land is known as subsidence.

sea level 5.png

Source: climate.gov: Blue is the height of the sea surface. Dots are the rate of increase on shore.

Why is it Problematic?

Rising sea levels will increase the number of refugees as people have started to migrate toward low-lying locations. Furthermore, defense and intelligence services regularly warn that climate change might spark wars severe enough to displace whole communities. The destruction of coastal ecosystems brought on by rising sea levels worsens the severity of storm surges and flooding.

Farmland along the coast, water supplies, the durability of infrastructure, and human lives and livelihoods are all threatened by sea level rise. These cities will face significant flood challenges considerably sooner than sea level rise models predicted if subsidence continues at current rates.

What can be done?

Since sea level rise is inevitable, building barriers is not a solution to protect our towns from rising seas. Coastal wetlands, marshes, and mangrove swamps, on the other hand, have the capacity to hold sediment and expand vertically at rates that are comparable to or greater than the average rate of sea level rise.

In addition, permitting coastal wetlands to grow and spread out might lower emissions and stabilize coasts. It can also prevent erosion and flooding. Building structures that can be modified to account for anticipated considerable sea level rise in the future is another possibility in the worst-case scenario. Infrastructure designed and built with a future perspective can be a potential option to save lives and money.

Also Read: Global Warming: Breaking The 1.5°C Limit For The First Time

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