Global warming to make extreme coastal events more common: Study
Extreme coastal events happening every 100 years currently are expected to occur, on average, every year by the end of this century due to global warming, according to a study. The research, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, looked specifically at extreme sea levels and the occurrence of exceptionally high seas due to the combination of tide, waves, and storm surge.
Extreme sea levels will become 100 times more frequent
The researchers predict that because of rising temperatures, extreme sea levels along coastlines globally will become 100 times more frequent by the end of the century in about half of the 7,283 locations studied.
Even slight rise in global temperature will affect sea level
While there is uncertainty about future climate, the researchers said the most likely path is that these increased instances of sea-level rise will occur even with a global temperature increase of 1.5 or two degree Celsius compared to pre-industrial temperatures. Scientists consider these temperatures the lower end of possible global warming.
Changes likely to come sooner than the end of century
The changes are likely to come sooner than the end of the century, with many locations experiencing a 100-fold increase in extreme sea-level events by 2070, the scientists said. Claudia Tebaldi, a climate scientist at the US Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, led an international team of researchers in the analysis.
Areas that are likely to be affected the most
The team found that the effects of rising seas on extreme sea level frequency would be felt most acutely in the tropics and generally at lower latitudes compared to northern locations. Areas likely to be affected most include the Southern Hemisphere, locations along the Mediterranean Sea, the southern half of North America's Pacific coast, and areas including Hawaii, the Caribbean, the Philippines, and Indonesia.
New study gives a more complete picture: Tebaldi
In many of these regions, sea level is expected to rise faster than at higher latitudes, according to researchers. The new study mirrors the assertion of the 2019 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which stated that extreme sea-level events would become much more common worldwide. "This study gives a more complete picture around the globe," he added.
Best-case and worst-case scenarios put forth by the study vary
"We were able to look at a wider range of warming levels in very fine spatial detail," he added. The best-case and worst-case scenarios put forth by the study vary, due to uncertainties that the study authors represented in detail.