Study triples estimate of people threatened by sea level rise
A new study has found that rising sea levels will threaten three times more of the population than previously expected.
WASHINGTON — New research has found that rising sea levels will be more of a threat to the world's coastal cities than previously thought.
According to a new study published in Nature Communications, previous estimates suggest 80 million people will be affected when flat, low-lying lands flood annually by 2050 as the Earth warms.
The Washington Post reports that this estimate was based on coastal elevation data that detected the height of the land surface and those on it, such as trees, houses, and buildings. This resulted in errors averaging 6.5 feet globally.
To gain more accuracy, a new model used laser-based coastal measurements and an algorithm to adjust the previous data set. They found that the population at risk from annual flooding is closer to 300 million.
In particular, areas in Asia are especially at risk, with the model showing larger swaths of submerged land in places like Ho Chi Minh, Bangkok, and Shanghai, among others.
According to the study, a scenario in which the world becomes warmer by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, would expose over 360 million people to annual flooding.
The worst case scenario, according to scientists, would see the Antarctic ice sheet melt and as many as 640 million people threatened.
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