Major coastal cities all over the world are staring down extreme water levels as climate change causes a small but steady rise for years to come, according to the latest scientific research.
Climate change is causing sea levels to rise at about 4mm per year in the coming years. While this won’t cause direct flooding to coastline developments, the real danger is that the rising levels give a higher starting point for big waves and storm surges, which can overwhelm coastal defenses.
The most at-risk areas are in low latitudes, where sea level rises are more proportionally significant – including large cities in Brazil, the Ivory Coast, and small Pacific islands throughout southeast Asia. In these locations, a 2.5cm rise leads to extreme water levels being seen twice as often, while a 5-10cm increase doubles the chances of coastal flooding along all the tropics.
That 5-10cm rise is predicted to occur within a couple of decades, meaning major cities including San Francisco and Mumbai will see their risks of coastal flooding doubled.
The ultimate cost is staggering – for 136 of the world’s largest coastal cities, flood damage could be as much as $1 trillion a year by 2050!