Protect coastal, island communities now as seas rise, scientists urge

(Reuters News, 25 Sep 2019) Some areas that once flooded only every 100 years or so could face annual flooding by 2050 unless strong protective measures are put in place.

Melting of the world's glaciers and warming of its oceans are fuelling rising seas, fiercer storms, worsening water shortages and other risks that could force millions from their homes or leave them hungrier and poorer, scientists warned on Wednesday.

Some of the threat could be averted both by rapidly slashing climate-heating emissions and speeding up efforts to adapt to the coming changes, using everything from sea-walls to early warning systems for extreme weather, they said.

But "we may be losing this race" to put protective measures in place in time, warned Hoesung Lee, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a U.N.-backed panel of climate scientists.

Coastal communities, particularly in the tropics and on low-lying islands, as well as people dependent on glacier melt for their water are most at risk, scientists said in a new report outlining how climate change could affect oceans and ice.

The report, crafted by more than 100 scientists from 36 countries, said 680 million people live in low-lying coastal zones worldwide, a figure expected to rise to 1 billion by 2050.

As sea level rises - driven increasingly by accelerating melting of the world's ice sheets as well as by ocean warming - those people will face more frequent flooding and harsher storms that drive powerful seawater surges inland, the scientists said.

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Reuters News, 25 Sep 2019: Protect coastal, island communities now as seas rise, scientists urge