Being a coastal community we are very aware of the benefits and the difficulties of living by the sea. Since 1987 our seafront has been protected by an ever-moving shingle bank.
“People have become used to a ‘myth of protection’. We are in a cycle of thinking we can protect everywhere always.”
John Curtin, head of floods and coastal management for the Environment Agency
The exact speed of sea level rise is difficult to predict. What we do know is that the ice caps and glaciers are melting past the point of no return. Physics also tells us that warmer water takes up more space.
Another issue is that rising sea temperatures are making storms stronger. When there’s intense low pressure, the sea itself is raises in a giant bulge and if it’s driven ashore by strong winds. If this coincides with a high tide, the effects can be devastating.
As can be seen below, even a relatively small 1m sea level rise leaves large areas with a much higher flood risk.
Only a dramatic drop in carbon emissions can keep global temperatures below 1.5°C degrees of warming and slow ice melt. The World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) support a likely warming range of between 2.6°C and 3.9°C.
It’s difficult to work out which local measures will have the largest impact. In the UK we are relatively lucky, some parts of the world are much more vulnerable.