Coastal cities across the world are threatened by rising sea levels, but a new study published in the journal Nature has found that we might be significantly underestimating the risk.
The study shows that Antarctica’s ice cap is less stable than previously thought and sea levels could rise more rapidly than predicted.
Previous studies had predicted sea level rises of up to a metre this century, however these projections failed to anticipate any significant contribution from Antarctic ice.
The researchers ran models that found rising levels of greenhouse gases could trigger an increase in Antarctic melting. This increase would double the previously expected sea level rise to a two-metre rise by the end of the century.
However, the model also found that a global commitment to the most ambitious goals set out in the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change would halt this melting, leaving the Antarctic ice sheet largely intact.
The cost of global flood damage is expected to rise to more than $1 trillion by 2050 unless action is taken, with many cities in less wealthy countries being prone to flood damage.