« Climate section pagePromotional content

Jul 17 2018. 10 31 PM Tue

Average sea levels may rise by up to 30 ft on global warming, says study

The sea level along India's long coastline of nearly 7,516km is rising at an average 1.6-1.7 mm a year, show studies

Scientists are also concerned about the fact that the Indian ocean is warming up faster than other oceans. Photo: Alamy

New Delhi: Average sea levels may rise by up to 30 feet around the world if humans continue to burn fossil and fuels causing temperatures to breach the threshold of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in the next few thousand years, says new research.

The Paris Agreement requires countries to limit their carbon emissions to keep the overall warming of Earth to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

With over a billion people living in coastal zones around the world, the impact of rising sea levels on human population along the coast could be larger than expected, especially in poor and developing countries, where millions are directly or indirectly depended on the oceans for their livelihood.

Demonstrating the co-relation between the cumulative carbon emissions and future sea-levels over time, the new study published in Nature Climate Change also raises concerns over the impending economic losses in the world’s largest coastal cities due to coastal flooding.

“The sea level rise we have seen thus far is just the tip of a very large iceberg. The big question is whether we can stabilize the system and find new energy sources. If not, we are on the way to a slow-motion catastrophe,” said co-author of the study Alan Mix from Oregon State University.

Researchers highlight that at present, over 10 billion tonnes of carbon is being emitted globally, which would mean that the 2-degree threshold would probably be reached within next 60 years.

According to oceanographers, among South-Asian countries, Bangladesh is most-vulnerable, but India with its vast coastline of nearly 7,516 km on the east and west also needs to be proactive, considering the vast numbers of people who are dependent on the oceans for their livelihood.

According to studies conducted, the sea-level is rising at an average rate of 1.6-1.7 mm per year along the Indian coast, but it is not uniform.

“It varies from 5mm in Sunderbans to less than a 1 mm per year in some of the areas in the west coast. Sunderbans are most vulnerable, not only because its low-lying, but also because the land is also sinking,” said S C Shenoi, director, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services, Hyderabad.

Scientists and researchers have prepared a vulnerability index of the entire coast of India, which not only covers threats due to sea level rise but also Tsunamis.

“Rising sea levels have not really alarmed people yet because their response time is much longer than temperature. Smart countries will use that to their advantage and begin adaptation strategies over time,” said Peter Clark, lead author from Oregon State University, emphasizing the need to consider the rise in sea levels as important factor while making future policy decisions on limiting carbon emissions.

“The sea levels are the highest ever globally. Though it is expected to rise by less than a metre by the end of this century, but even that is crucial, especially for India where places like Mumbai, could face consequences as happened in 2005,” said S W A Naqvi, former director, National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa.

However, Naqvi highlights that the climate change will not just lead to rise in sea-levels, but is set to affect storminess in the seas, which is a significant concern. “Most importantly, it is not just the rise in sea levels, but when coupled with storm surges, rising tides which can cause maximum damage in terms of inundation of low-lying areas. There are areas which are not very high above the sea level, which are at maximum risk,” he said.

Researchers point to the urgent need to prepare the coastal cities for the looming threat, especially considering the important role they play in powering the country’s economy. According to researchers, global economic losses from flooding in 2005 in the world’s largest coastal cities had reached $6 billion, which is estimated to grow to $1 trillion by 2050.

A recent study conducted by researchers from Indian institute of Technology Bombay, ‘Effect of climate change on shoreline shifts at a straight and continuous coast’, throws light on these concerns, while analysing the impacts of climate change on India’s coasts in terms of coastal sediment transport, shoreline erosion and overall coastal vulnerability. The study takes into consideration the coast of Udupi in Karnataka along India’s western coastline which is one of the rapidly changing coastal stretches, and highlights that the effects of climate change could be worse than expected in terms of erosion along the coastline. “In future, higher waves may occur more frequently with corresponding reduction in the frequency of lower waves,” states the research paper.

According to the research, recent analysis of satellite images indicates that the shoreline under consideration is undergoing continuous erosion with an annual average rate of 1.46 m/yr, that the trend of significant erosion noticed in the past will continue in the future as well and that such rate over the next 35 years would go up to 2.21 m/yr. This could be because of the increase in wave forcing in future.

“There are definitely going to be effects on storms due to climate change. We are now focussing on gathering more data and constructing models which can give us accurate projections of estimate sea level rise along the Indian coast. The aim is to prepare maps which can show how much land we will lose. The topography is very important to make that assessment and we are working on that,” added Shenoi.

Scientists are also concerned about the fact that the Indian ocean is warming up faster than other oceans. The increased heat content can fuel stronger storms along the coasts, which could be drastic and more areas can face the risk of inundation. Higher waves could occur more frequently.

Even as sea level rise takes a lot longer to respond to global warming, researchers emphasize that the most evident impact could be expected on the coastlines and countries should take that into consideration during policymaking on climate change to safeguard their coasts.

“Keeping sea level rise to 3-9 meters or roughly 10 to 30 feet over several thousand years is likely too optimistic unless society finds ways to quickly reach zero emissions and lower the CO2 in the atmosphere,” says the research paper published in Nature Climate Change.

“We now know how much more carbon we can emit to keep below a certain temperature. One way to begin looking at it from a policy standpoint is to ask the question, ‘how much sea level rise can we tolerate?’” Clark said.

 

articles
Jun 21 2018. 11 46 PM Thu

'Smart cities are not only about sensors and gadgets but also mobility, development, jobs'

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to challenges cities face today, said panellists at the 'Danfoss-Mint Transformation Agenda...

infrastructure
Jun 21 2018. 11 15 PM Thu

India's future lies in creating carbon-neutral cities, says Danfoss India's Purushothaman

With the fast pace of urbanization across India and the world, adopting carbon-neutral technologies and offering innovative solutions...

infrastructure
Jun 06 2018. 10 44 AM Wed

How new-age infrastructure projects are redefining India

The rising aspirations and needs of citizens are driving India towards new-age infrastructure where "SMART" is the byword. Almost every new infra project, be it...

infrastructure
Jun 06 2018. 10 43 AM

My dream is that people will soon zoom on smart highways: Nitin Gadkari

Nitin Gadkari, minister for road transport and highways, said his dream project of smart highways is progressing in the right direction. Smart roads...

infrastructure
Jun 05 2018. 06 38 PM

Inclusive agenda key win for smart cities programme

The project cost for all cities put together is ₹2.02 trillion, split into area-based development projects costing ₹1.63 trillion, and pan-city solutions projects...

infrastructure
May 30 2018. 01 05 AM

India turns hot spot for global firms offering smart mobility

India's quest for smart mobility has made the country a hot spot for international companies to offer their latest technologies such as pod taxis, hyperloop, electric...

infrastructure
May 21 2018. 12 48 PM

Organized supply chain, growing crops in sync with demand can boost farmers' incomes

Growing crops in sync with market demand can boost farmers' income, while organized supply chain can reduce loss of...

food
May 09 2018. 10 08 PM

Govt creating infra to reduce food waste, says Harsimrat Badal

Food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said the government is working to reduce wastage of food by creating a cold chain grid across the country...

food
May 02 2018. 09 09 PM

Making India's fruit processing industry globally competitive

India is the second largest country in terms of arable land, roughly 160 million hectares. It also ranks second in production of fruits and vegetables. India has 15...

food
May 02 2018. 09 00 PM

Food safety policies need to cover the entire chain, from farm to fork

India is one of the leading producers of food globally and there is a lot of potential which can be harnessed to create a safe and healthy food ecosystem in the country...

food
May 02 2018. 08 17 PM

Organic food market to grow at 20-25%: 24 Mantra Organic CEO

Organic produce is an emerging market in India, clocking a turnover of Rs3,350 crore in 2016, and is expected to treble it by 2020. According to N. Balasubramanian...

food
Apr 25 2018. 10 04 AM

Food safety needs a collaborative approach

Our country, though agriculturally abundant, is still struggling to provide its large population with the right nutrition. In a few decades, as we continue to grow in numbers and economically...

food
Apr 25 2018. 09 50 AM

Can there be a viable value chain for fresh fruits and vegetables?

India has seen large investments in supply chain of apple by way of controlled atmosphere cold stores in which oxygen levels are reduced from about 21% to 2% and...

food
Apr 25 2018. 09 43 AM

Will food processing boost prices for farmers?

Last month, Premsingh Chavan, a farmer from Maharashtra's Marathwada region, destroyed his ready-to-harvest crop of tomatoes and cauliflowers after wholesale prices...

food
Mar 30 2018. 03 11 AM

Policies, institutions, bureaucracy key to energy efficiency mission'

'Energy saved is energy gained' should be the mantra for India's evolving energy paradigm, said experts at Mint Danfoss Transformation agenda on energy...

Energy
Mar 12 2018. 12 51 AM

We are preparing a national strategic plan for energy efficiency: BEE's Abhay Bakre

State-backed Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) is leading the government's efforts to set energy efficiency benchmarks and to have...

Energy
Mar 12 2018. 01 41 AM

Achieving energy efficiency key to meeting lower emissions commitment

It is important to educate consumers and spread awareness of various energy efficient options in the market that can help in optimizing...

Energy
Feb 28 2018. 06:38 AM

Getting around India's energy efficiency conundrum

The road towards energy efficiency hasn't been easy due to lack of funds, resulting in the govt rolling out a number of policies that include a market-based trading mechanism...

Energy
Feb 28 2018. 12:19 AM

The road ahead: charting own path while learning from global experience

Rapid industrialization and growing population are increasingly changing the ecology of the planet. With all the increment in population and development, there are growing...

Energy

Energy efficiency is the new source of energy

The whole world may be looking to find the next best source of energy, so we can reduce the dependence on fossil fuel, and generate environment-friendly energy. But do you know that one of the largest sources of energy may just be energy efficiency?...

Energy

Raising the bar for a greener tomorrow

Rapid industrialization and growing population are increasingly changing the ecology of the planet. With all the increment in population and development, there are growing concerns of greenhouse gas emissions depleting green cover and causing global...

Energy

How an efficient cold chain is the answer to food losses and doubling farmers' income?

India is the world's second largest producer of fruits and vegetables, but also accounts for one of the biggest food loss and waste with harvest and post-harvest losses in fruits, vegetables, and grains worth...

Food

Govt looks at energy-efficient ways to tackle climate change

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has embarked on a multi-pronged strategy for achieving its climate change commitments, with measures ranging from combating air and water pollution to global...

Climate

India needs to do more to reduce carbon emissions

India is among the fastest growing economies and the third largest emitting country in the world, but has always held the onus of climate change on developed countries for their historical emissions. If it is the responsibility of every country to protect its...

Climate

As temperatures rise, nearly half of South Asia's population at risk

Average temperatures have risen over the past six decades and continue to do so in South Asia, making it, particularly India, where 75% of the population is dependent on agriculture, one of the regions most vulnerable to climate...

Climate

Average sea levels may rise by up to 30 ft on global warming, says study

Average sea levels may rise by up to 30 feet around the world if humans continue to burn fossil and fuels causing temperatures to breach the threshold of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial...

Climate

The need to invest more on climate change education

Nearly half of the population in India lives in places that are likely to become moderate or severe climate hot spots by 2050, according to a World Bank Study launched very recently. Changing rainfall pattern due to climate change could result...

Climate

Cities seen taking more eco-friendly steps to become climate resilient

When Ahmedabad became the first city in South Asia to develop a heat action plan in 2013, the initiative snowballed into a national effort involving 30 other cities. Several of them also appointed a resilience officer for the first...

Climate
The above content has not been created by any Mint journalist or editorial teams