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36 million Indians may face annual floods by 2050 due to sea level rise: study

According to the Climate Central study, rise in sea levels will by 2050 push average annual coastal floods higher than lands that are now home to 300 million people. Previous estimates had put that figure at about 80 million.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune | Published: October 30, 2019 3:42:49 am
The study details findings from individual assessments from 135 countries across multiple climate scenarios and years.

Thirty-six million people in India would face annual flooding by 2050 and 44 million by 2100 if emissions continue to rise, according to a study published Tuesday in Nature Communications.

According to the Climate Central study, rise in sea levels will by 2050 push average annual coastal floods higher than lands that are now home to 300 million people. Previous estimates had put that figure at about 80 million.

Climate Central is a non-profit science and news organisation providing information to help the public and policymakers make sound decisions about climate and energy. The study details findings from individual assessments from 135 countries across multiple climate scenarios and years. Climate Central also used its new elevation data to produce enabling neighbourhood-level exploration of threatened areas around the world.

Six Asian countries — China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand — are home to the great majority of people, approximately 237 million, living in places which without coastal defences could experience coastal flooding at least annually by 2050, more than four times the estimates based on older elevation data.

The study warns that high tidelines could permanently rise above land occupied by nearly 150 million people. This study reaffirms the recent IPCC report that focused on the changing nature of oceans and cryosphere. It had showed that while sea level rose globally around 15 cm during the 20th century, it is currently rising at more than twice the speed — 3.6 mm per year and accelerating. The sea level is projected to reach around 30-60 cm by 2100 even if greenhouse gas emissions are sharply reduced and global warming is limited to well below 2 degree Celsius.

Dr Scott Kulp, a senior scientist at Climate Central and lead author of the study, said, “As the tideline rises higher than the ground people call home, nations will increasingly confront questions about whether, how much, and how long coastal defences can protect them.”

Asked about the implications on India, Dr Anjal Prakash, who is the coordinating lead author of IPCC’s special report on the ocean and cryosphere in a changing climate and lead author of the IPCC’s upcoming 6th assessment report, told The Indian Express that the Climate Central study reaffirms the findings of the IPCC report.

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