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Study Expects 2 Billion Climate Change Refugees by 2100 due to Global mean Sea Level Rise

Earth’s escalating population is expected to top 9 billion people by 2050 and climb to 11 billion people by 2100

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  • Earth’s escalating population is expected to top 9 billion people by 2050 and climb to 11 billion people by 2100
  • Those who once lived on coastlines will face displacement and resettlement bottlenecks as they seek habitable places inland
  • Feeding that population will require more arable land even as swelling oceans consume fertile coastal zones and river deltas, driving people to seek new places to dwell

New York, June 27, 2017: Global mean sea level rise may dislocate hundreds of millions of people by 2100, making about one-fifth of the world’s population — two billion people — climate change refugees, says a study.

Those who once lived on coastlines will face displacement and resettlement bottlenecks as they seek habitable places inland, according to the study published in the journal Land Use Policy.

“We’re going to have more people on less land and sooner than we think,” said lead author Charles Geisler, Professor Emeritus of Development Sociology at Cornell University in the US.

“The future rise in global mean sea level probably won’t be gradual. Yet few policy makers are taking stock of the significant barriers to entry that coastal climate refugees, like other refugees, will encounter when they migrate to higher ground,” Geisler said.

ALSO READ: Refugees in India Looming For Basic Rights: Here Is Why India Needs Refugee Law!

Earth’s escalating population is expected to top 9 billion people by 2050 and climb to 11 billion people by 2100, according to a United Nations report.

Feeding that population will require more arable land even as swelling oceans consume fertile coastal zones and river deltas, driving people to seek new places to dwell.

By 2060, about 1.4 billion people could be climate change refugees, according to the paper. Geisler extrapolated that number to two billion by 2100.

“The colliding forces of human fertility, submerging coastal zones, residential retreat, and impediments to inland resettlement is a huge problem,” Geisler said.

“We offer preliminary estimates of the lands unlikely to support new waves of climate refugees due to the residues of war, exhausted natural resources, declining net primary productivity, desertification, urban sprawl, land concentration, ‘paving the planet’ with roads and greenhouse gas storage zones offsetting permafrost melt,” Geisler said.

“Beyond sea level rise, low-elevation coastal zones in many countries face intensifying storm surges that will push sea water further inland. Historically, humans have spent considerable effort reclaiming land from oceans, but now live with the opposite — the oceans reclaiming terrestrial spaces on the planet,” said Geisler.

In their research, Geisler and Currens explored a worst-case scenario for the present century.

The authors noted that the competition for reduced space that they foresee will induce land-use trade-offs and conflicts. In the US and elsewhere, this could mean selling off public lands for human settlement.

“The pressure is on us to contain greenhouse gas emissions at present levels. It’s the best ‘future proofing’ against climate change, sea level rise and the catastrophic consequences likely to play out on coasts, as well as inland in the future,” Geisler said. (IANS)

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Skyscrapers May Have Made The Impact Of Hurricane Harvey Worse: Study

The scientists projected future warming and found future versions of the same storms would be significantly wetter and stronger.

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Hurricane
Floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey overflow from Buffalo Bayou in downtown Houston, Texas, VOA

Humans helped make recent devastating U.S. hurricanes wetter but in different ways, two new studies find.

Hurricane Harvey snagged on the skyscrapers of Houston, causing it to slow and dump more rain than it normally would, one study found. The city’s massive amounts of paving had an even bigger impact by reducing drainage. Land development in the metro area, on average, increased the chances of extreme flooding by 21 times, study authors said.

A second study looked at last year’s major Hurricanes Maria and Irma and 2005’s deadly Katrina and used computer simulations to see what would have happened if there had been no human-caused global warming. The study found that climate change significantly increased rainfall from those three storms, but did not boost their wind speed.

Both studies are in Wednesday’s journal Nature.

Hurricane, skyscraper
A smoky haze envelopes the skyscrapers and Rocky Mountains that usually can be seen as a backdrop to the city from a high-rise building, Aug. 20, 2018, in Denver. VOA

Houston was a literal drag on Harvey as it sloshed through, with the storm getting tripped up by the skyscrapers, said study co-author Gabriele Villarini, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Iowa.

Co-author Gabe Vecchi, a climate scientist at Princeton University, said that forced the storm to move up higher, causing more concentrated rain over Houston and slowing, which also made more rain.

He compared it to a river running over rocks, creating bubbles.

“That’s sort of what’s going on here,” he said.

This effect is dwarfed, though, by the paving and building that don’t allow water to sink into the ground, Vecchi said.

Harvey’s record rainfall reached 5 feet in one spot near Houston. The scientists used computer simulations to see the effects of urbanization. In parts of the Houston metro area, the effects of development ranged from a 10 percent higher risk of extreme flooding in the less developed northwest to nearly 92 times the risk in the northeast, they reported.

Hurricane Florence, Lawmakers,
A work truck drives on Hwy 24 as the wind from Hurricane Florence blows palm trees in Swansboro N.C. VOA

That’s on top of the unique weather patterns that made Harvey slow down and stall and climate change which brought more water into the storm, Vecchi said.

MIT hurricane and climate expert Kerry Emanuel, who wasn’t part of the study, called the Harvey study “a real advance in our understanding of hurricane impacts on urban areas.”

But Texas state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon wasn’t convinced. He said the team used generic shapes instead of the actual Houston skyline. He said the storm’s wind speeds may have slowed, but that’s different from the storm’s forward movement slowing.

The other study in Nature looked at a variety of historical damaging storms and tried to calculate past and future effects of climate change. In three cases, the scientists simulated the storms without the changes in the climate from greenhouse gases, showing that global warming increased rainfall 8.9 percent in Hurricane Maria , 6.3 percent in Hurricane Irma and 8.7 percent in Hurricane Katrina .

Maria hit Puerto and Rico and other parts of the Caribbean. Irma hit the Caribbean and Florida, while Katrina struck New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

Climate Change, Hurricanes
Russ Lewis covers his eyes from a gust of wind and a blast of sand as Hurricane Florence approaches Myrtle Beach, S.C.. VOA

In Maria’s case, a warming climate concentrated heavier rain in the center of the storm and reduced it on the edges, said co-author Michael Wehner, a climate scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

For 15 storms, which included the devastating Typhoon Haiyan , the potent Gilbert and 1992’s Hurricane Andrew , the scientists projected future warming and found future versions of the same storms would be significantly wetter and stronger.

Also Read: Vietnam Does Its Part in Cleaning The Environment, Cleans Plastic

“We are beginning to see a climate change influence emerge on tropical cyclones and that’s coming out as rainfall,” said study lead author Christina Patricola, an atmospheric scientist at the national lab.

Although replicating a storm in a different climate is difficult and can’t account for certain changes, this work bolsters science understanding of how climate change alters hurricanes, Emanuel said. (VOA)