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How to Flood out 5 million people:

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A half degree more global warming could flood out 5 million more people:

March 9, 2018 by Liz Fuller-Wright, Princeton University

The 2015 Paris climate agreement sought to stabilize global temperatures by limiting warming to "well below 2.0 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels," but a recent literature review found the 2 degree limitation "inadequate" and concluded that limiting global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees would "come with several advantages."

To quantify what that would mean for people living in coastal areas, a group of researchers employed a global network of tide gauges to create probabilistic, localized sea-level projections that assess differences in the frequency of storm surges and other extreme sea-level events across three scenarios: global temperature increases of 1.5, 2.0 and 2.5 degrees Celsius. They used long-term hourly tide gauge records and extreme value theory to estimate present and future return periods of extreme sea-level events through the 22nd century.

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the paper:

Extreme sea level implications of 1.5 °C, 2.0 °C, and 2.5 °C temperature stabilization targets in the 21st and 22nd century: 


Sea-level rise (SLR) is magnifying the frequency and severity of extreme sea levels (ESLs), which can cause coastal flooding. The rate and amount of global mean sea-level (GMSL) rise is a function of the trajectory of global mean surface temperature (GMST). Therefore, temperature stabilization targets (e.g., 1.5 °C and 2.0 °C of warming above pre-industrial levels, as from the Paris Agreement) have important implications for coastal flood risk. Here, we assess, at a global network of tide gauges, the differences in the expected frequencies of ESLs between scenarios that stabilize GMST warming at 1.5 °C, 2.0 °C, and 2.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. We employ probabilistic, localized SLR projections and long-term hourly tide gauge records to estimate the expected frequencies of historical and future ESLs for the 21st and 22nd centuries. By 2100, under 1.5 °C, 2.0 °C, and 2.5 °C GMST stabilization, respectively, median GMSL is projected to rise 48 cm (90% credible interval of 28--82 cm), 56 cm (28--96 cm), and 58 cm (37--93 cm). As an independent comparison, a semi-empirical sea level model calibrated to temperature and GMSL over the past two millennia estimates median GMSL rise within 7--8 cm of these projections. By 2150, relative to the 2.0 °C scenario and based on median sea level projections, GMST stabilization of 1.5 °C spares the inundation of lands currently home to about 5 million people, including 60,000 individuals currently residing in Small Island Developing States. We quantify projected changes to the expected frequency of historical 10-, 100-, and 500-year ESL events using frequency amplification factors that incorporate uncertainty in both local SLR and historical return periods of ESLs. By 2150, relative to a 2.0 °C scenario, the reduction in the frequency amplification of the frequency of the 100-yr ESL event arising from a 1.5 °C GMST stabilization is greatest in the eastern United States, with ESL event frequency amplification being reduced by about half at most tide gauges. In general, smaller reductions are projected for Small Island Developing States.

Edited by beecee

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