By Lise Alves, Contributing Reporter

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – A seminar named “Flooded Future: Assessing the Implications of New Elevation Data for Coastal Communities” in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, November 20th, discussed the effects of sea level rise on coastal communities around the world.

Miami Beach, Florida,New data shows that many more people are at risk of having their homes flooded due to sea level rise than previously thought.
New data shows that many more people are at risk of having their homes flooded due to sea level rise than previously thought, photo by NPS/Flickr

According to analysts, a new data model created by Climate Central on land elevation of coastal communities shows that the negative implications of seal level rise on shorelines will much more significant than previously believed.

“The effects of sea level rise over the coming decades could be significantly more disastrous than previously thought, particularly in Eastern and South Asia, but also in other parts of the world,” stated Ambassador David Balton, Senior Fellow, Polar Institute, Wilson Center.

“That is because the data sets used to estimate elevation of land near shore in much of the world seriously miscalculate the amount of area under threat of rising tides and flooding,” added Balton.

As a result, shows the new digital elevation model produced by Climate Central, hundreds of millions of more people than previously thought today live in such areas. According to this new research by 2050, sea level rise could push the high-tide line above the homes of 150 million people living on coastlines today.

“Two things matter with coastal resiliency: how high the water is going to get and how high the land is. Most reports focus on high water is going to get and not on the elevation of the land,” stated Benjamin Strauss, CEO for Climate Central during the seminar.

In its latest report, Climate Central, an organization of made up of scientists and researchers studying climate change and its impact on the public, found that rising sea levels could also push chronic floods higher and affect, instead of 300 million as previously thought, 480 million people by 2100.

These significant larger totals have wide-ranging and profound implications for economic and political stability, say researchers.

The greatest impact shows the report will be felt in Asia, specifically in China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand. These six countries are home to 75 percent of the 300 million people who are currently living in chronic flood zones.

The seminar’s other participants, Eric Schwartz, (President of Refugees International), John Conger (Director of the Center for Climate and Security) and Julie Rozenberg, (Senior Economist at the World Bank) agreed that what is now needed is forecasts for specific economic, humanitarian, and political costs due to the revised data on sea level rise revealed by the report.


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