Even if the world comes together to take drastic actions and manages to limit global warming to current levels, sea levels will continue to rise.
As per the 2015 Paris Climate Accords, over 190 countries from around the world have agreed to take actions such as cutting down on carbon emissions and more to limit global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius than pre-industrial revolution levels.
However, according to new research limited global temperatures to just 1.5 degrees Celsius won’t be enough to stop polar ice caps from completely “disintegrating”, meaning sea levels around the world will continue to increase, albeit slowly.
In a paper published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact and Princeton University warned that in a 1.5 degrees Celsius world, sea levels will continue to rise for centuries and swamp coastal areas including cities that are currently home to over 50 crore people.
Compared to pre-industrial levels, the atmosphere contains twice as much carbon dioxide concentrations, leading to an increase in temperatures of around 1.1 degrees Celsius.
Researchers found that even under the most optimistic scenarios, Asia will be affected the worst, with nine out of ten high-risk megacities located in the continent. Coastal urban areas in countries such as China, Indonesia, and India are expected to face the brunt of the devastation. Over 20 crore people are expected to be affected by sea-level rise in China alone.
According to Ben Strauss, lead author of the paper, chief scientist, and CEO of Climate Central, around five percent of the global population live in coastal areas that are at high risk of being submerged.
“1.5C of warming will still lead to devastating sea levels rise, but the hotter alternatives are far worse,” said Strauss in an interview with the AFP. “It is almost certain that seas will rise more slowly in a 1.5C or 2C warmer world.”
However, in a 3 degrees Celsius world, the sea levels are expected to rise by six to nine meters, which will completely change the world’s coastal landscapes.
Cover Image: Shutterstock