Major cities at risk from rising sea level threat
The predicted rise in sea levels would engulf island nations such as the Maldives in the Indian Ocean and Tuvalu in the Pacific, devastate coastal cities such as Calcutta and Dhaka and force London, New York and Shanghai to spend billions on flood defences
Hannah Devlin and Robin Pagnamenta
Sea levels will rise by twice as much as previously predicted as a result of global warming, an important international study has concluded.
The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) calculated that if temperatures continued to increase at the present rate, by 2100 the sea level would rise by up to 1.4 metres — twice that predicted two years ago.
Such a rise in sea levels would engulf island nations such as the Maldives in the Indian Ocean and Tuvalu in the Pacific, devastate coastal cities such as Calcutta and Dhaka and force London, New York and Shanghai to spend billions on flood defences.
Even if the average global temperature increases by only 2C — the target set for next week’s Copenhagen summit — sea levels could still rise by 50cm, double previous forecasts, according to the report.
SCAR, a partnership of 35 of the world’s leading climate research institutions, made the prediction in the report Antarctic Climate Change and Climate. It far exceeds the 0.59 metre rise by the end of the century quoted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007. This was based on a “business as usual” approach by governments that allowed temperatures to rise by 4 degrees. It will underpin the negotiations in Copenhagen.
SCAR scientists said that the IPCC underestimated grossly how much the melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets would contribute to total sea-level rises.
One of the world’s leading experts on climate science has called for the world to intensify efforts to control global warming by actively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.