FOR THE WEEK OF OCT. 18, 2021
Climate change: Rising seas could imperil major cities in U.S. and around the world
Find an article or photo showing how weather and climate affect our daily lives. Give an example.
Share a quote or fact from other earth science or climate news.
What academic training and skills does someone in a scientific or environmental protection profession use?
Miami, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston are among major coastal cities are at risk of flooding from higher sea levels unless countries cut back on carbon emissions and build stronger flood defenses, a new study suggests. Climate Central, a nonprofit research group in Princeton, N.J., predicts that about 50 urban centers globally face "unprecedented" threats from higher oceans late this century or early in the next one if polar ice caps continue melting as average global temperatures reach levels never recorded before. Responses to sea level rise include relocation to higher ground, raising structures and building seawalls to protect populated areas.
The analysis released last week by scientists and journalists in an environmental journal was done with researchers at Princeton University and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. They say China, India, Vietnam and Indonesia are most vulnerable to long-term sea level rise if average global temperature climb by 3 degrees Celsius, as the current trend suggests could happen. That warming would further melt Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, releasing an amount of water capable of covering land that 10 percent of the global population inhabits. Some places, including island nations such as the Bahamas, could need to be abandoned.
"Higher levels of warming will require globally unprecedented defenses or abandonment in scores of major coastal cities worldwide," the study says, "whereas the count could be limited to a relative handful through strong compliance with the Paris Agreement” – a 2015 international treaty on climate change. The study writers acknowledge that because of recent flooding and storm surges, cities will likely upgrade coastal defenses to avoid worsening problems. Their report doesn't consider existing protections such as levees and seawalls when it estimates dangers from rising oceans.
During the first two weeks of November, world leaders will gather at a UN-arranged climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland. They'll discuss a new agreement to further limit greenhouse gas emissions from burning oil, coal and natural gas. Without bold and rapid actions, specialists warn, extreme weather and sea level rise will be more common. Scientists say the planet is running out of time to avoid these worst-case scenarios. An encouraging sign came at the UN General Assembly last month, when China made a major climate pledge as one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases: It will stop building coal-fired power plants in other countries.
Scientist says: "Today's choices will set our path." Benjamin Strauss, president and chief executive at Climate Central and lead author on its report
Other big cities at risk: St. Petersburg and Tampa, Fla; London, England; Hong Kong, China; Mumbai, India; Hanoi, Vietnam; Glasgow, Scotland.
Upcoming summit: UN Climate Change Conference from Oct. 31-Nov. 12 in Glasgow, Scotland, will work “to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.”
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