A new study warns that hundreds of millions of people could lose their homes to rising seas by 2050.
The study, which was published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, used artificial intelligence and satellite data to find that flooding could affect three times more people than previously thought.
As climate change gets worse, areas that are home to roughly 300 million people will face annual severe flooding over the next three decades, according to the study. High tides could permanently rise above land where 150 million people live.
Photos: Vanishing Greenland
If carbon emissions don’t decrease, researchers warn that 630 million people could be affected by coastal flooding by 2100.
Asia could face the biggest changes in flooding, according to the research. Roughly 70% of the people at risk for annual floods or permanent flooding are in eight Asian countries. In Bangladesh, the number of people at risk of annual flooding could increase more than eightfold by 2050. The whole southern tip of Vietnam could be flooded.
“These assessments show the potential of climate change to reshape cities, economies, coastlines and entire global regions within our lifetimes,” Scott Kulp, the lead author of the study and a senior scientist at Climate Central, said in a statement.
“As the tideline rises higher than the ground people call home, nations will increasingly confront questions about whether, how much and how long coastal defences can protect them.
Researchers warned that while threats of flooding in the U.S. aren’t as stark, the country could face a large influx of people trying to relocate.
“In the decades ahead, sea-level rise could disrupt economies and trigger humanitarian crises around the world,” Climate Central said in a press release.
The study authors said their estimates are conservative, and the real numbers could end up being much worse if countries don’t cut emissions as promised under the Paris agreement.
“As shocking as these findings might be, there is a silver lining,” Climate Central’s director of communications, Peter Girard, said in a statement. “They give us the knowledge we need to take action in time to protect millions, and to avoid the economic and political upheaval that a climate disaster on this scale could bring.”