Costs from coastal flooding in Europe could hit almost 1 trillion euros by 2100, according to researchers.
The new study from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre estimated the costs to vary widely, between 93 billion and 961 billion euros a year, depending on the response from European nations. Current costs are estimated at 1.25 billion euros.
Rising sea levels caused by growing global temperatures will directly impact the volume of water on the oceans. In addition, ice melting from Greenland and Antarctica will also increase coastal flooding, making these events stronger and more widespread.
“Climate change is the main driver of the future rise in coastal flood losses,” the researchers state in the article. Other factors, such as costal migration and urbanization, were seen to decline with time.
The scientists used a sophisticated assessment tool which pooled together different datasets on the level of possible exposure to flooding. These included shoreline, tides, and historical storm surges, which provided a degree of accuracy close to 100 metres.
102,000 people are currently exposed to coastal flooding every year around European coasts. Climate change is expected to increase this to between 1.5 and 3.65 million by the end of the century.
Separate research has found that ice loss in Antarctica has tripled in the past five years, reaching an annual figure of 219 billion tonnes.
To combat the problem, climate adaptation plans need to be in place and stronger levels of investment. Unless measures are taken now the risks from flooding could be “unprecedented”. Flood defences need to be installed that can withstand sea levels ranging from 0.5 to 2.5 metres, the academics concluded.
The article is published in the journal Nature Climate Change.