Huge swathes of Britain’s coastline are at risk of being plunged underwater by 2100 amid sea level rises fuelled by climate change, a new study has warned.
Researchers say parts of the south east and north west of England, south Wales and central Scotland, are most at risk.
They also warned that in these regions even densely populated cities such as London, Cardiff, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh are not safe.
In these areas, flood damage is expected to increase by more than 25 per cent if action is not taken to counter climate change and rising sea levels, according to the study led by the University of Bristol.
It claims that the annual damage caused by flooding in the UK could increase by more than a fifth over the next century unless all international pledges to reduce carbon emissions are met.
Warning: Huge swathes of Britain’s coastline are at risk of being plunged underwater by 2100 amid sea level rises fuelled by climate change, a new study has warned. This graphic shows the areas where the current annual cost of flooding damage (left) is expected to increase over the next 80 years (right)
The study is the first to assess the risk of flooding using the most recent Met Office climate projections, which factor in the likely impact of climate change.
It reveals that the forecasted increase in yearly flooding damage to properties and businesses could be avoided if all countries fulfil the ambitious pledges they signed up to at COP26, although Britain would also need to achieve its Net Zero commitments on time and in full.
WHICH PARTS OF THE ENGLISH COASTLINE WILL BE THE WORST HIT BY EROSION?
Figures published in 2019, based on data collected by the Environmental Agency’s National Coastal Erosion Risk Mapping project, suggest the following areas of England’s coastline will be the worst hit by erosion:
|COASTAL AREA:||LAND ERODED AFTER 20 YEARS:|
|1. Happisburgh, Norfolk||318 feet (97m)|
|2. Kessingland, Suffolk||230 feet (70m)|
|3. Hornsea, East Riding of Yorkshire||223 feet (68m)|
|4. Withernsea, East Riding of Yorkshire||200 feet (61m)|
|5. Sunderland, Tyne & Wear||131 feet (40m)|
|6. Filey, North Yorkshire||131 feet (40m)|
|7. Camber, East Sussex||131 feet (40m)|
If these things do not happen, the study shows that the annual cost of flooding in the UK over the next century could grow by between 13 per cent and 23 per cent, depending on different levels of climate extreme projections.
The study’s lead author Paul Bates, professor of hydrology, said: ‘For the first time this flood model gives us a more accurate and detailed picture of the impact of climate change on the risk of flooding in the future across the UK.
‘The results are a timely warning to the country’s political leaders and business sector that global commitments to significantly reduce carbon emissions must be taken very seriously, and ultimately take effect, in order to mitigate increased losses due to flooding.’
The data has also highlighted the places in the UK where flooding risks will increase most rapidly, even under the best-case scenario where global warming is limited to 3.24°F (1.8°C).
These include the south east and north west of England, south Wales and central Scotland.
The new model also suggests that the risk of flooding in north east and central England, as well as eastern and northern Scotland, will change very little over the next 80 years.
‘Although the most optimistic climate scenarios see only modest increases in flood losses at a national level, these new data demonstrate how this conceals dramatic variations across the country, with some places seeing large changes and others very little,’ said Professor Bates.
‘This is a result of changing patterns of future rainfall, river flow and sea level rise, and this leads to the regional differences we predict.’
The model predicted 1-in-250-year flood water depth for Carlisle, showing maximum levels of water elevation
This graph shows how the cost of flooding to Britain has increased as global warming has risen
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