A new study has shown that unless there is a drop in carbon emissions globally, the lives of up to 410 million people will be threatened from sea level rises as they would be living in areas less than 2 metres above sea level.
According to the new study that was published in Nature Communications, more than 267 million people globally currently reside on land that is less than 2 metres above sea level. According to the predictions of the scientists involved in the study, that number of people living in low lying areas could increase to 410 million people if there is a 1 metre sea level rise and zero population growth by 2100. This study was made using a remote sensing method called Lidar that pulsates laser light across coastal areas which was used for measuring the elevation on the Earth’s surface.
About 62 per cent of such low lying areas that would be the most at risk are concentrated in the tropics and the largest extent of land at risk globally was identified to be in Indonesia, showed the maps. The study predicted even greater risks in the future when about 72 per cent of the population at risk would be residing in the while 59 per cent in tropical Asia alone.
Even though the outcome of the study was inherently uncertain, there was need for greater focus on tropical regions for addressing issue of long term flood preventions, said Dr Aljosja Hooijer, specialist water resources expert for Deltares, an independent institute for applied research in water and subsurface, and the lead author of the study.
“There’s a lot of scientists looking at long-term scenarios. But it’s happening now in parts of the world, and in these parts of the world, mostly in the tropics. And not just in south-east Asia, it’s also for instance in the Niger delta and Lagos,” he said.
“If you look at sea level rise, the impact research to date is mostly focused on defining sea level rise scenarios. There has been relatively little attention to elevation data, and that is simply because people didn’t feel much could be done about it, including ourselves for a long time,” he added.
Hooijer however also stressed that even though this latest study was not specifically one that researched into the aspect of sea-level rise, the model developed for the new elevation data was made using accurate data which is often not available in many parts of the world.
“In some countries like the Netherlands, or parts of the UK, and much of the US, they have excellent data for these coastal zones, because they fly Lidar every four years. It costs tens of millions of euros just to cover the Netherlands. Obviously in much of the world, people don’t have that kind of funding,” Hooijer said.
Coastal cities of the world could see a rise in sea level of as much as 5 meters by 2300 which would impact hundreds of millions of people, claimed a survey conducted last year by Climate and Atmospheric Science, which aggregated the views of 106 specialists.
(Adapted from SMH.com.au)