Rising sea levels could threaten homes of up to 300 million people

October 31, 2019

A recent study published in Nature Communications has determined that the homes of up to 300 million people will be threatened by rising sea levels – more than three times the previous estimate.

According to the Guardian, rising sea levels will cause flooding in these areas at least once a year by 2050.

The study looked at the topography of coastlines using artificial intelligence, which made up for the underestimates of previous studies that used satellite data.

Previous estimates found that approximately 80 million people would be at risk, but the satellite imagery sometimes mistook objects like tall trees or buildings as higher land at lesser risk of flooding.

The more accurate study reveals that the risk in Asia was particularly underestimated. In India, the risk of at least one annual flood increased twelvefold.

Despite the improved predictions, study scientists say the data could still underestimate the risk of flooding events because the calculations assumed compliance with the Paris agreement, which is currently not being fulfilled by several countries.

As a worst-case scenario, more than 640 million people could be affected.

In order to prevent displacement and damages, carbon emissions must be drastically reduced and coastal defenses improved, researchers said.

Initial underestimates placed the cost of damages from annual flooding to be approximately $1 trillion. Financial figures will need to be updated to reflect the current data, according to the Guardian.

Photo courtesy of NOAA

Rising sea levels could threaten homes of up to 300 million people