Sea-level rise one of the risks due to Climate Change
One of the several risks of global climate change is that it can induce sea-level rise. Several scientists have given already warnings about this risk through their scientific publications. Now an Italian group of scientist developed a method to calculate and visualize future sea-level rises. They used as an example the Italian coast but state that it can be applied worldwide in other coastal areas.
How many would a sea-level rise affect?
Having in mind that alone in Europe 19% of the entire population (86million people) lives within 10km of the coastline, policy maker on a local and European scale should take this risk into serious consideration. Specifically the in the Mediterranean the situation is even more of higher concern, as there 75% of its populations lives in coastal areas. In the United States, approximately 25 million people live in an area with high vulnerability to coastal flooding.
What is the impact of sea-level rise and coastal flooding?
Sea level rise could erode and inundate coastal ecosystems. Furthermore, coastal areas are also home to species and habitats. Several activities, such as fish cultivation, tourism, marine transportation and others are integral to the economy of several nations. Hence, sea-level rise and coastal flooding would impact directly and indirectly the society and the natural ecosystems.
What would happen in Italy due to sea-level rise?
The study shows that it is expected that the relative sea-level rise by 2100 will change dramatically. As a result, the current morphology of Italian coast will change and will potentially flood up to about 5500 km2 of coastal plains. Subsequently, land will be lost, which will have an impact on the environment and local infrastructures.
The Italian scientists state that several studies have been published predicting sea-level rise change but in none sea-level rise projections were used in combination with high-resolution Digital Terrain Models (DTM). This combination enables to draw detailed maps of expected coastal flooding.
Can these results support coastal management?
Can scientist support directly the coastal management? The answer from Dr. Fabrizio Antonioli, Research Director at ENEA is a clear “No! We are scientists,” he says “and we communicate the results to the local or national, we can’t decide! There are many local economic, politic or social different motivations that only politics can decide.” Nevertheless, visualization tools, as the one developed by him and his group, could support the work and decisions of policy makers with respect to coastal management.
Scientist is taking measurements in the field / Source: Dr. Fabrizio Antonioli
Other coastal areas that are expected to be affected by marine ingression due to global climate change could apply this method to visualize and calculate potential flooding. There could be many potential coastal management solutions to minimize the risk of coastal flooding such “as a dam, dewatering or let the sea flooding and change the activities from agriculture in fish farming” says Dr. Fabrizio Antonioli, Research Director at ENEA.
Sea level rise is an additional stress of climate change. It may require new approaches to managing coastal ecosystems. Based on their results, the scientists suggest that planners and decision makers should take these scenarios into account for coastal management.
The future steps of Dr. Fabrizio Antonioli scientific group are to “apply this map on the whole Mediterranean”, where 75% of its populations lives in coastal areas and would be directly affected by a sea-level rise. We are looking forward seeing their new findings published!