Europe can expect mounting coastal climate damage during this century, scientists say, with similar problems affecting the rest of the world as well.
By 2030, sea level rise driven by global warming could be costing the Netherlands city of Rotterdam $240 million a year. By 2100 Rotterdam could be spending $5.5bn a year on its losses – but the Turkish city of Istanbul could be paying $10bn for coastal climate damage.
Altogether, 13 years from now, climate change losses could be exacting a US$1.2bn toll on 19 great European cities. By 2100 the bill could have risen to $40bn, according to new research.
Low-lying coastal zones – bits of land no more than 10 meters above the sea level – account for only one-fiftieth of the planet’s land surface. But these coastal zones are home to one in 10 of the planet’s 7 billion-plus humans.
Two-thirds of all megacities – with populations of more than five million people – are in these low-lying coastal zones, and they are growing rapidly: in the last 40 years, the population at risk from potentially catastrophic once-a-century floods and storm surges has risen by 95%.
So as global temperatures rise, in response to higher levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, driven by combustion of fossil fuels, so do ocean levels. The seas are being swollen not just by melting glaciers from the land but also by thermal expansion.
But the frequency and intensity of rainstorms, floods, hurricanes and storm surges are predicted to increase with average global temperatures. So the world’s great seaports and coastal cities are not just committed to losses from extreme events, but will also have to adapt to continuous and increasing attrition from the waves.
Read more at Costs of Coastal Climate Damage Set to Climb