Sea levels have been rising faster than researchers believed since 1993, and satellite data show that the rate of annual increase is accelerating.
“The evidence is growing from a number of recent studies of the ice caps that sea level rise is accelerating, posing a threat to many of the world’s largest and most wealthy cities—most of which are also important ports,” RTCC reports. “Some in Europe—such as London and Rotterdam—already have flood barriers to protect areas below high tide or storm surge level, but these will need to be replaced and raised in the next 30 years.”
And in the developing world, “delta areas in Egypt, Vietnam, Bangladesh and China—vital to each of the nation’s food supply—are already losing land to the sea.”
Scientists previously believed sea levels were rising by one to two millimetres per year, but the new measurements indicate a rate of 3.1 millimetres. Meanwhile, a report by the non-governmental E3G “says governments across the European Union are leaving their major cities exposed to danger from climate change, including floods, heat waves and sea level rise,” Brown writes.
“Since it takes an average of 30 years from planning to complete construction of a major flood barrier to protect a city, the report warns that the problem needs to be given urgent consideration and funding.”