Global warming is causing the average sea level to rise. And there are already images that show the scenario experienced in several coastal cities in the future.
Historic droughts, deadly floods and melting: all are the result of global warming, which is also causing sea levels to rise.
A new study by Climate Central, a non-profit research group, shows that around 50 big coastal cities they will have to implement “unprecedented” adaptation measures to prevent them from being “swallowed up” by the sea.
The analysis, in collaboration with researchers from Princeton University and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, resulted in images that show the contrast between the world as we know it today and its underwater future, if the planet heats 3°C above pre-industrial levels.
According to the CNN, which cites climate scientists, the world is already about 1.2°C warmer than pre-industrial levels. But temperatures should remain below 1.5°C — a critical threshold to avoid the most severe impacts of the climate crisis.
But even in the most optimistic scenario, where global greenhouse gas emissions start to decline and are reduced to zero by 2050, the global temperature will still peak above the 1.5ºC threshold before starting to decline.
In less optimistic scenarios, where emissions continue to rise beyond 2050, the planet could reach a 3°C rise as early as 2060 or 2070, and the oceans will continue to rise for decades beyond that, before reaching peak levels.
“Today’s choices will define our path”, said Benjamin Strauss, chief scientist at Climate Central and lead author of the paper.
The researchers used global elevation and population data to determine which parts of the world will be most vulnerable to sea level rise — and these tend to be concentrated in the Asia-Pacific region.
Small islands are at risk of “almost total loss” of territory and eight of the ten largest areas exposed to sea level rise are in Asia, with approximately 600 million people exposed to flooding in a 3°C warming scenario .
According to the study, China, India, Vietnam and Indonesia are the five countries most vulnerable to long-term sea level rise.
With every fraction of a degree of warming, the consequences of climate change worsen and, even limiting heating to 1.5ºC, scientists say the types of extreme weather the world has experienced this summer will become more severe and more frequent.
In addition to 1.5ºC, the climate system can become unrecognizable.
According to Climate Central, about 385 million people currently live in places that will eventually be flooded by high tide, even as greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.
If the warming is limited to 1.5ºC, the rise in sea level would affect places inhabited by 510 million people.
If the planet reaches 3 degrees, the high tide line could invade territory, where more than 800 million people live, the study finds.
The authors note, however, that the assessment was done without global data on existing coastal defenses such as dykes. Due to the impacts seen with recent floods and storms, cities will likely renovate infrastructure to prevent further impacts.
“Higher levels of heating will require abandonment [de território] unprecedented in dozens of major coastal cities around the world,” the authors wrote.
But the count could be reduced, if the Paris Agreement was fulfilled, especially with regard to limiting heating to 1.5ºC, continued.
During the first two weeks of november, world leaders will meet to discuss the UN’s climate measures in Glasgow, Scotland. On the table will be not only limiting greenhouse gas emissions, but also financing nations to reduce fossil fuels and for the world to adapt to the impacts of the climate crisis.
Unless bold and swift action is taken, extreme weather events and sea level rise, fueled by climate change, will be part of Earth’s future. Scientists say the planet is running out of time to avoid these pessimistic scenarios.