Rising sea levels driven by global warming are on track to dramatically boost the frequency of coastal flooding worldwide by mid-century, especially in tropical regions, researchers said Thursday.
A 10-to-20 centimetre (four-to-eight inch) jump in the global ocean watermark by 2050 — a conservative forecast — would double flood risk in high-latitude regions, they reported in the journal Scientific Reports.
Major cities along the North American seaboard such as Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, along with the European Atlantic coast, would be highly exposed, they found.
But it would only take half as big a jump in ocean levels to double the number of serious flooding incidents in the tropics, including along highly populated river deltas in Asia and Africa.
Even at the low end of this sea rise spectrum, Mumbai, Kochi and Abidjan and many other cities would be significantly affected.
“We are 95 percent confident that an added 5-to-10 centimetres will more than double the frequency of flooding in the topics,” lead author Sean Vitousek, a climate scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told AFP.
Small island states, already vulnerable to flooding, would fare even worse, he added.
“An increase in flooding frequency with climate change will challenge the very existence and sustainability of these coastal communities across the globe.”