PRINCETON, N. J. — It may sound so slight, but just a half-degree (Celsius) increase in global temperatures could cause more frequent severe flooding, particularly for coastal cities.
Climatologists ran simulations to find out what would happen to coastal areas around the world if the global temperature increased 1.5, 2, or 2.5 degrees Celsius by the year 2150. Researchers from Princeton, Tufts, and Rutgers all collaborated on the study.
They found that the difference between the earth’s surface warming by 1.5 or 2 degrees was drastic. Estimates showed 5 million people would be affected by severe flooding if the earth warmed by 2 degrees.
“People think the Paris Agreement is going to save us from harm from climate change, but we show that even under the best-case climate policy being considered today, many places will still have to deal with rising seas and more frequent coastal floods,” explains DJ Rasmussen, first author of the study, in a Princeton news release.
They found that the higher the global temperatures, the more frequent extreme sea level events will occur. For example, if global temperatures increase by 1.5 degrees Celsius, New York City can expect one Hurricane Sandy-type flood once every five years by the end of the 21st century.
Overall, the researchers expect that by the end of the century, a 1.5-degree Celsius increase could raise the sea level by 1.6 feet, while a 2-degree increase would raise the sea levels by 1.8 feet.
The full study was published March 15, 2018 in the journal Environmental Research Levels.