According to new research published by scientific magazine Nature Communications, 200 million people in the world will live below the sea level line by 2100. An additional 160 million will be affected by higher annual flooding due to rising ocean levels. These numbers are much higher than those published in previous studies, which used different coastal elevation models and assumed that only 250 million people in total would be affected by these adverse events.
Out of the 200 million directly affected by rising sea levels, researchers estimate that 70 percent will live in just eight countries in Asia. Most people affected would live in China: 43 million or around 20 percent. At 32 million and 27 million affected people, Bangladesh and India would also be hit hard, as would be Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Japan.
In Europe, the Netherlands would theoretically be the most affected. Here, more than 4 million people are expected to live below sea level in 2100. Yet, the country has one of the most effective flood control networks in the world (not taken into account by the study’s modelling), which is expected to keep citizens safe. Other countries in Europe where rising sea levels could be a problem are the UK (1.5 million people at risk), Germany (1 million people), Turkey, France and Italy (500,000 people each).
The model used in the study assumes a global average temperature increase of 2° C and does not take into account the possibility of accelerated ice sheet melting.