Rising Seas Could Flood Cities and Displace Hundreds of Millions of People

The risk posed to humanity from rising seas may be more dire than previously thought.

A new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, suggests that rising seas could flood coastal cities around the world, displacing almost 200 million people by the end of the century.

Researchers put the probability of sea level rise exceeding two meters at 5% by 2100. A two meter increase is twice as high as the upper limit in a 2013 UN climate assessment.

At that level almost 1.8 million square kilometers, or 700,000 square miles of land, including New York, New Orleans, Miami, Shanghai, Mumbai and several island nations could be permanently flooded, displacing up to 187 million people.

For this study, researchers asked 22 climate experts to predict the ice sheets’ effect on sea level rise under two scenarios. One where temperatures rose by 2 degrees Celsius and another where temperatures rose by 5 degrees Celsius.



Photo: “Flooded City Dock in Annapolis, MD King Tide” by Forsaken Fotos is licensed under CC BY 2.0