Global sea ice levels are at a record low as temperatures recorded at the North Pole in November and December were 10 degrees warmer than the average. Disconcerting footage by filmed by a scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on January 29 illustrated the point. Chelsea Thompson was on her way to Barrow, Alaska, when she captured the thin ice cover over the Arctic ocean. Credit: Twitter/ArcticAirDoctor via Storyful
SAY sayonara to Sydney airport, farewell to Fremantle and bye to Byron Bay.
A series of maps has graphically illustrated how Australia could be affected by climate change and rising sea levels. And it looks like many of our major towns and cities could be getting a lot soggier.
Hobart Airport would be underwater, Melbourne’s Southbank submerged and the WACA in Perth would be inundated.
Famous sea side resorts like Byron Bay, Port Douglas, Noosa and the Gold Coast are in danger of seeing the sea get a whole lot closer for comfort.
A climate expert has said rising sea levels globally could displace “tens of millions of people”.
The new maps come from Costal Risk Australia run by Western Australia business management consultants NGIS. The data is fished from the US’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA to show which areas will be at risk from a “business as usual” scenario of a 2 metre sea-level rise by 2100.
Just by putting in your suburb name into the Coastal Risk Australia, you can see if you area is at risk of flooding.
Website co-creator Nathan Eaton said that with more than 80 per cent of Australians living near the coast, it was critical for people to appreciate what rising sea levels in the decades to come could mean for their communities.
However, in some areas its likely even a 2 metre sea rise will be surpassed. Climate scientists have pointed to parts of northern and Western Australia where rises could be higher.
The Torres Strait Islands have experienced regular king tides, an area which rarely got any of the monster tides in the past.
Professor John Church from the University of NSW’S Climate Change Research Centre said flooding to the measure forecast would cause catastrophic problems for many Australians.
“With business as usual emissions, the questions are when, rather than if, we will cross a 2 metre sea level rise,” he told Fairfax.
“This scenario would result in major catastrophes and displace many tens of millions of people around the world.”
One of the worst affected areas would be Cairns with vast tracts of the city’s CBD and suburbs at risk from rising sea levels.
But Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said he wasn’t going to lose any sleep over the maps.
He said claims Cairns could be under the ocean by the end of the century were “outlandish”.
“I’m someone who takes environmental issues very seriously,” he told the Cairns Post.
“But if we’re going to run around every day because some group comes up with some wild or outlandish or extreme prognosis — and we don’t have any verification on it — then we’ll just spend the next so many years going crazy.”
He said the decisions made by the council were based on the “best scientific evidence we’ve got” and that the city worked with the Local Government Association of Queensland’s sea-level adaptation unit.
Earlier this month, climate scientists at the University of Melbourne warned an agreement reached in Paris to hold global average temperatures rise to under 2C above pre industrial levels would inevitably fail.
Last week, US researchers said sea levels driven by global warming were on track to dramatically boost the frequency of coastal flooding worldwide by mid-century, especially in tropical regions.
A 10 -20cm jump in the global ocean watermark by 2050 — a conservative forecast — would double flood risk in high-latitude regions, they reported in the journal Scientific Reports.
Major centres such as Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, along with the European Atlantic coast, would be highly exposed, they found.
But it would only take half as big a jump in ocean levels to double the number of serious flooding incidents in the tropics, including along highly populated river deltas in Asia and Africa.
Even at the low end of this sea rise spectrum, Mumbai, Kochi and Abidjan and many other cities would be significantly affected.
“We are 95 per cent confident that an added 5 — 10 centimetres will more than double the frequency of flooding in the tropics,” lead author Sean Vitousek, a climate scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told AFP.