Nearly half a billion people at risk from sea level rise by 2100

“There’s a lot of scientists looking at long-term scenarios. But it’s happening now in parts of the world.”

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A new study found that nearly half a billion people could be at risk by 2100 as the sea level continues to rise. Global emissions must be reduced to help prevent this from happening. 

Climate change is the cause for the rise in sea levels as well as an increase in severe storms that increases flood risks. 

According to EcoWatch, the study, published in Nature Communications Tuesday, found that 267 million people currently live on land that is less than two meters (approximately 6.6 feet) above sea level, the range that is the most vulnerable to rising water levels. By 2100, the number at risk could climb to 410 million people.

Their maps showed that 62% of the most at-risk land is concentrated in the tropics, with Indonesia having the largest extent of land at risk worldwide. These projections showed even more risk in the future, with 72% of the at-risk population in the tropics, and 59% in tropical Asia alone, reported The Guardian

“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,” says Dr. Aljosja Hooijer, specialist water resources expert for Deltares and the lead author of the study. 

Although [the study] estimates are projections with inherent uncertainty, the authors argue that they highlight the urgent need to focus more on tropical regions for the development of adaptation measures and spatial planning for long-term flood risk prevention, writes PHYS.org.

“These numbers are another wake-up call about the immense number of people at risk in low-lying areas, particularly in vulnerable countries in the global South, where people are often experiencing these risks as part of a toxic mix with other risk factors, currently also including Covid-19,” says Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) contributing lead author Maarten van Aalst. 

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