International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

New elevation data triple estimates of global vulnerability to sea-level rise and coastal flooding

AUTHORS: Scott A. Kulp & Benjamin H. Strauss. ABSTRACT: Most estimates of global mean sea-level rise this century fall below 2 m. This quantity is comparable to the positive vertical bias of the principle digital elevation model (DEM) used to assess global and national population exposures to extreme coastal water levels, NASA’s SRTM. CoastalDEM is a new DEM utilizing neural networks to reduce SRTM error. Here we show – employing CoastalDEM—that 190 M people (150–250 M, 90% CI) currently occupy global land below projected high tide lines for 2100 under low carbon emissions, up from 110 M today, for a median increase of 80 M. These figures triple SRTM-based values. Under high emissions, CoastalDEM indicates up to 630 M people live on land below projected annual flood levels for 2100, and up to 340 M for mid-century, versus roughly 250 M at present. We estimate one billion people now occupy land less than 10 m above current high tide lines, including 250 M below 1 m. Published by Nature Communications in 2019. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, with appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source and link to the Creative Commons license.

02 Nov 2019

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English

New elevation data triple estimates of global vulnerability to sea-level rise and coastal flooding.pdf