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Sea level rise warning: Alarming UK maps shows areas to be hit by extreme risk of flooding

Climate change: Map shows areas to be ‘below sea level’ in 2100

Met Office research, based on exploratory results up to the year 2300, confirms sea levels continue to rise way beyond 2100 even with a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The Met Office estimates that sea level rise in London will be anywhere between 29 and 70 centimetres by 2100. In Cardiff, this figure is between 27 and 69 centimetres, and between 11 and 52 centimetres in Belfast. Edinburgh is less affected as it is a hillier area. Low-lying areas are naturally more affected by flood risk.

Research published last year in IOP Science detailed the “unprecedented threats to cities from multi-century sea level rise”.

These findings were portrayed in photorealistic images from Climate Central.

Even if carbon pollution levels are drastically cut, limiting global warming to 1.5℃, much of south and central London would be below the tideline.

The Shard, the O2 Arena and almost all of Canary Wharf would be at extreme risk of flooding, as would Buckingham Palace.

Large swathes of the east coast of England, stretching as far inland as Cambridge, would fall below the tideline, as would some of the east Kent coast.

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Rising sea levels

Several low-lying UK areas are at risk from rising sea levels. (Image: Climate Central/GETTY)

rising sea levels

Much of central London is very low lying. (Image: Climate Central)

On the west coast, areas such as Blackpool, Southport and parts of Liverpool would be at risk.

Parts of Cardiff city centre and low-lying areas of Somerset would also be under threat.

The picture changes significantly if global warming reaches 3℃, the current carbon path.

Huge areas of London would be well below the tideline — including a stretch from Greenwich right up to Tottenham and Edmonton.

Buckingham Palace would be at major risk of flooding, as would Cardiff’s Millennium Centre, Warrington town centre as well as almost the whole of the cities of Portsmouth and Hull.

rising sea levels

Parts of the east coast are already very prone to flooding. (Image: Climate Central)

Climate and energy choices in the years to come will play a significant role in which scenario we face, but the timing of such a rise is more difficult to predict — the predicted sea levels could take hundreds of years to be fully realised.

The UK already invests a significant amount of money in flood defences, and more will be needed to adapt to the growing impact of climate change.

Approaches can include ‘hard engineering’ — maintaining and strengthening existing structures such as sea walls.

The Southsea Coastal Scheme is the UK’s largest local authority-led coastal defences project, worth more than £100m.

Stretching from Old Portsmouth to Eastney, the scheme will reduce the flooding risk to more than 10,000 homes.

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rising sea levels

Parts of Cardiff city centre and Somerset are at increased risk. (Image: Climate Central)

Alternative policies of ‘managed realignment’ may also be adopted, in which the shoreline is allowed to move naturally to an agreed position. In locations that are deemed too difficult to protect with hard engineering, or where the cost of protection, this approach may be adopted.

Gwynedd Council has voiced concerns over the cost of protecting the village of Fairbourne, which looks set to become the UK’s first ‘victim’ of climate change.

These areas, which would eventually become saltmarshes, would act as natural sea defences by dissipating wave energy. They would also provide, or improve, wildlife habitats.

The effects of global warming are as clear as they have ever been.

Almost one quarter of the world’s population experienced a record hot year last year, as 2021 was confirmed as the sixth hottest ever.

rising sea levels

Scotland’s raggy landscape means most areas would be safe, besides Falkirk. (Image: Climate Central)

Last July was the hottest month ever recorded, as temperatures in California’s Death Valley reached a staggering 54.4℃.

A total of 1.8 billion people live in countries that experienced their hottest year ever, according to an analysis released last month by Berkeley Earth.

Closer to home, Britons are seeing similar effects. Plants here in the UK are flowering almost a month earlier on average, and autumn leaf fall is being delayed by warmer weather.

A recent study from the University of Cambridge compared the first flowering dates of 406 planet species with climate records.

They found the early flowering shows a strong correlation with rising temperatures.

Arctic sea ice continued its decline last year, and the oceans were hotter than ever before — the sixth consecutive year this record has been broken.

Professor Paul Bates, one of the UK’s leading hydrologists, told “Even if we decarbonise very quickly and greenhouse gases start to come down, sea levels continue to rise for centuries still as the ocean continues to warm up and ice sheets start to discharge more of their ice into the oceans.”

He added: “It’s likely that sea levels will continue to rise for centuries and centuries even if we get to net zero by 2050 and stop pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

“In all cases, rising sea levels increases coastal flood risk, which is already a problem in many areas.”



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