Sea levels rise behind high climatic damage costs: Study

London, Feb 29 (IANS) With the rise in sea levels, costs of climatic damages like floods are also increasing constantly at a higher rate, impacting the coastal regions of the world, says a study.

“When sea levels rise, damage costs rise even faster,” said lead author Markus Boettle from Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany.

The researchers developed a method to measure the monetary losses from coastal floods under sea-level rise.

“Our study illustrates that the flood damage can be disentangled by surprisingly simple mathematical functions to provide estimates of the average annual costs of sea-level rise over a longer time period,” Boettle added.

The method can translate the occurrence probability of flood events into the probability of inundation damage in coastal cities like Mumbai, New York, Hamburg — Pacific, Atlantic or North Sea.

The researchers applied the method to the city of Copenhagen in Denmark and found that a moderate mean sea level rise of 11 centimetres until mid-century would in the same period double economic losses in this city, given no action is taken.

Expected regional sea level rise was taken into account by separating two components, namely the increasing number of events and the increasing severity of each one.

Moreover, potential flood defence measures like dikes or sea walls can be included into the calculations as they prevent or mitigate damages from storm surges.

Climate change pose a greater risk for coastal regions as it leads to rise in sea-level which, in turn, produces more frequent and intense coastal flood events.

The severity of flood impacts is not only determined by environmental factors but also to a significant extent by human decisions. Flood defence measures can counteract the increasing flood risk, the researchers elicited in the study published in the journal Natural Hazards and the Earth System.

Sea levels will continue to rise and shape our coastlines for future generations. But additional preventive measures need to be considered in addition to the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, to help coastal regions especially in transition and developing countries to adapt and to limit damage cost, they concluded.

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