UCL News


Cities in danger as scientists predict rapid sea level rise

24 March 2006

Sea levels will rise much faster than previously thought leading to the flooding of many cities unless major steps are taken to curb carbon dioxide emissions this century, scientists warn today.

Temperatures are rising on track to melt the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets sooner than thought, triggering the 20ft sea rise by 2600 and inundating heavily-populated coastal areas, including much of the Netherlands. …

Professor Bill McGuire [UCL Benfield Hazard Research Centre] said: "Last year a six metre [20 foot] rise was thought to be at least 1,000 years away. This year it is 500 as the Greenland ice sheet continues to fall apart at an accelerating rate."

The Benfield team has predicted that a 20-foot rise would leave many towns and cities, including Edinburgh, Newcastle, Bristol, Plymouth, Norwich, Peterborough and Bournemouth, waterlogged, with well over two million people displaced. In the London area, much of Southwark, Lewisham, Greenwich, Tower Hamlets, Bexley and Barking and Dagenham would be under water, along with large areas of south Essex and north Kent earmarked for the Thames Gateway Development.

Professor McGuire said a "doomsday" scenario would see a 275-foot rise but this was extremely unlikely and would only happen if we do nothing about carbon emissions, leading to a runaway greenhouse effect.

Roger Highfield, 'The Daily Telegraph', 24 March 2006