A new projection method, using artificial intelligence, indicates as many as 300 million people are currently living on land that will be below the high-tide line by 2050, three times more than previously estimated. A lot fo the impact will be felt by a handful of coastal Asian countries.
Driven by climate change, global mean sea level rose 11–16 cm in the twentieth century – nature.com report
The paper, published in Nature Communications, estimates that 70% of the total number of people worldwide currently living on vulnerable land are in eight countries – China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Japan.
This grim forecast by Climate Central, a New Jersey-based nonprofit of scientists and journalists, bases its information off new artificial intelligence and satellite data that it says provide a more accurate reading of global land elevation.
China alone accounts for 15–28% of global exposure for extreme coastal water level events. The country could see land now home to a total of 43 million people below high tide by end of century.
And, in countries south of China, the exposure to rising water levels “may be an order of magnitude more serious than previously expected,” writes the paper’s authors.
The story is grave in Thailand where more than 10% of Thailand’s residents already live on land that is likely to be inundated by 2050. The numbers of Thais at risk of annual flooding by 2050 has increased more than twelvefold in Thailand, according to the report. Bangkok is particularly at serious risk, with much of the city set to disappear under high tide waters.
More than 20 million people in Vietnam, almost one-quarter of the population, currently live on land that will be flooded at high tide. Much of Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s economic hub, is counted in that land.
The threat is already being felt in Indonesia, where the government recently announced plans to move the capital city from Jakarta, which is subsiding and increasingly vulnerable to flooding. The new figures show 23 million people are at risk in Indonesia, up from the previous estimate of 5 million.
The authors say the calculations could still underestimate the dangers because they are based on standard projections of sea level rise in a scenario known as RCP2.6, which assumes emissions cuts in line with the promises made under the Paris agreement. Countries are currently not on course to meet these pledges.
The new projections comparing earlier sea level estimates for 2050 against new estimates
SOURCE: The Guardian | Nature.com | AsiaNews Network