Extreme sea levels likely to be more frequent: Study

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London, July 9 (IANS) With a surge in global warming, extreme sea levels that are expected to happen on average once every 100 years could, now occur every decade or even every year by 2050, a study cautioned.

The findings showed that densely populated coastal regions of the US and large parts of Australia and Europe, including the UK, may be particularly at risk from these future extreme sea levels.

The phenomenon is expected to occur more frequently as rising waters combine with high tides and storm surges to potentially devastating effect leading to coastal flooding and erosion, the researchers explained in the paper published in the journal Nature Communications.

“Our study has shown that extreme sea levels will increase dramatically in coming decades. It is therefore vital we continue to invest in defences, forecasting and monitoring,” said Robert Nicholls, professor at University of Southampton in Britain.

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As sea levels continue to rise because of global warming, much less intense and far more frequent moderate storms could cause as much damage to vulnerable coastal communities in the future as currently only occurs during rare extreme storms.

Thus, vulnerable communities can protect themselves by creating or upgrading infrastructure such as dykes, pumping systems and barriers.

In addition, new building regulations or flood zones to prevent new infrastructure from being built in high-risk areas could also help mitigate the effects of future extreme sea levels, the researchers suggested.

For the study, the team used a representative sample of 20 different statistical methods for predicting extreme sea levels.

“Our new results improve our confidence in what extreme sea levels might look like in coming decades and helps us to identify hotspot areas of major concern, where significant upgrades to flood protection and other measures are urgently needed,” noted Ivan Haigh, associate professor at University of Southampton.

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