GLOBAL sea levels could rise by more than double previous estimates by 2100 due to accelerating ice melts in Greenland and Antarctica, a new study has revealed.
Significant rises have long been feared, as climate change warms the atmosphere and causes the huge blocks of ice at the Earth’s poles to melt.
This could see 200 million people displaced globally – roughly 20 times the number displaced by the Second World War.
It was previously thought the world was on course for a rise of just under one metre, but experts now say it could be twice that, with “profound consequences for humanity”.
The biggest impact would be the loss of land, with the worst-hit areas including many packed cities and major food-growing regions.
Estimates of the rise previously ranged from seven to 178cm, but only accounted for the melting of ice sheets, the largest bodies of continental ice.
CITIES UNDER THREAT
When smaller bodies like glaciers, as well as the swelling of oceans as they warm, are included, estimates rocket.
The latest research, conducted by leading British and American universities, including Princeton and Bristol, said the worst-case scenario is now a global sea-level rise of two metres.
The rise could lead to a total loss of land of 1.79 million square kilometres, an area seven times the size of the UK.
Cities under threat include major global hubs like London, New York, and Shanghai.
People living in the coldest parts of the world are already seeing the effects of melting ice caps.
So-called iceberg tourism, where people travel to see icebergs up close as they float near land, is booming in Canada, as more icebergs break away from melting glaciers in the Arctic.
Many of the glaciers beginning to melt are tens of thousands of years old.
Cape Bonavista, of the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, is dubbed "iceberg alley" because of the huge bergs that float by every spring.
In 2017, people flocked to the small coastal town of Ferryland, an hour’s drive south of St. John’s to catch a glimpse of a massive iceberg.
And last summer, an 11-million ton iceberg passed near a small fishing island in western Greenland, raising fears that such villages are at risk of being hit by tidal waves.
The authors of the study said there is still time to avoid the worst effects of climate change if global carbon emissions are significantly reduced.
They acknowledge that a two-metre rise is a worst-case scenario, but say the risk is about one in 20.
Lead author, Professor Jonathan Bamber of the University of Bristol, told the BBC: “If I said to you that there was a one in 20 chance that if you crossed the road you would be squashed, you wouldn't go near it.”
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