The average global sea level on earth was 10-20 cm in the past century. But in the last 20 years alone, the annual rate has doubled. This is mainly attributed to three factors: thermal expansion, melting glaciers, and ice loss in Greenland and Antarctica. The countries most affected by rising sea levels are usually island countries. But other countries at low altitudes are also at great risk today. Below we have listed countries that are at serious risk from the rising sea level problem. Some of them, unfortunately, may not see the next century.
Countries threatened by rising sea levels
Tuvalu is an island country located in the Pacific Ocean, consisting of nine islands. The rising sea level is of great concern as these islands are on average 1.8 metres above sea level. The highest point in the country is only 4.5 meters above sea level.
The University of Hawaii has continuously monitored sea levels in the country for 23 years, following a project that began in 1978. Their study showed that the sea rises 1.2 mm per year. The slowly rising sea is not a real threat to the Coral uplands because they are also rising. But if the sea rises faster than the reefs grow, these islands could disappear. Tropical cyclones also pose a great danger to the citizens of Tuvalu.
Kiribati is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean consisting of 33 atolls and one uninhabited island. There are four groups of islands: Banaba, Gilbert Islands, Phoenix Islands and Line Islands. After a heavy El Nino downpour in 1999, two uninhabited islands sank into the water.
The United Nations predicts a rise of about 6 metres in sea level by 2100. This will Salt most of the arable land in Kiribati. Most of the land will remain underwater. The risk of the entire country being submerged is low, but the risk of cyclones destroying low-lying vegetation and structures is enormous.
Palau is an archipelago located in the Pacific Ocean, consisting of more than 700 islands. Traditionally, the people of Palau have learned to live with the sea and benefit economically and socially from the sea. But rising sea levels in the recent past have made some of the islands unusable and have already sent residents into panic.
The rising temperature of seawater also leads to severe coral bleaching, and the country has lost about 30% of its corals because of this. As sea water is now increasingly replacing soil, rising sea levels have also negatively affected vegetation and agriculture in the region.
The Solomon Islands consist of six large islands and more than a thousand small islands. The fact that the islands are low means that they are constantly in danger from rising sea levels. At least five of these islands have been completely lost due to rising sea levels.
Another island, Nuatambu Island, has left more than 50% of its area at sea, leaving more than 15 families quickly homeless. Many families have recently had to move to higher inland and even to other islands.
The Maldives is an archipelago of islands in the Indian Ocean, rising atop vast undersea mountain ranges. It has an average elevation of 1.2 metres above sea level, making it the lowest country in the world. The highest point on the island is located at just 2.1 meters above sea level. The country consists of about 1,100 coral islands and 26 atolls. These are spread over 90,000 square km in double-chain groups. This fact makes the Maldives the most disorganized country in the world.
The Maldives is one of the most endangered countries in the world due to rising sea levels and flooding brought on by climate change. According to the Maldivian president, the country will be flooded for several years if carbon emissions continue at this rate. The Maldivian government has plans to buy land in India, Sri Lanka and Australia.
The Seychelles are located in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa and consist of 155 Islands. There are no settlements in most of the Highlands. 98% of the total population lives in only 54 of the islands. This rapid sea level rise in the Seychelles is unprecedented in the last century.
The sea surrounding the island has risen by 17cm in recent years, about 10 times the average over the past 10 years. Since about 85% of economic activity takes place along the coastline, these developments have major impacts on the country’s economy. Increasing erosion along the coast is negatively affecting tourism.
It is the easternmost country of the Indochina Peninsula, surrounding Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. The country has more than 3200 km of coastline. The effects of sea level rises are felt most strongly in the Mekong River Delta, where about 22% of the entire population lives and more than half of the food in the entire country is produced.
In the coming years, it is estimated that 40% of the Delta could be submerged, affecting more than 10 million people. Most citizens living in coastal areas migrate inland as a result of the effects of sea level. Farming gradually weakened due to the increased salinity level in the soil.
Bangladesh is located in South Asia, on the border of India and Myanmar. The country experiences natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and tides almost every year. A tornado in 1991 killed 140,000 people and left even more homeless. In 1998, more than 30 million people were left homeless due to severe flooding. Only 135,000 cattle died in the process. Rising sea levels are forecast to bring in more than 20 million climate refugees in the country in the coming decades.
Japan is an island nation located in the Pacific Ocean in East Asia, consisting of 6,852 islands. The country is in danger of drowning under rising sea levels caused by global warming. It was calculated that a two-degree Celsius increase in global temperature would flood an area occupied by more than 18 million people. It is estimated that more than 34 million people in the country will be homeless if the increase reaches 4 degrees Celsius. Tokyo, the country’s largest city and also its capital, will likely turn into a swamp if the rate of rising sea levels is not controlled.
Ireland is an island with a coastline length of 2800 km and the highest altitude is 1040 meters above sea level. Every year, the rate of sea levels rising is increasing. Two main reasons for this trend are due to global warming: one is the expansion of water due to sea warming, and the other is the massive melting of land ice. Other adverse effects of rising sea levels on the country include flooding, poor water quality and the extinction of fish susceptible to temperature changes.
The United Kingdom is a country in Western Europe surrounded by The Atlantic Ocean. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that borders another county. Most areas of the country consist of mountainous northwestern areas and flat terrain. The country’s coastal areas are extremely vulnerable to ever-rising sea levels due to their low levels. A large percentage of the UK population is made up of elderly people who are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of flooding.
The Netherlands is the main constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is a highly populated country with a population density of about 510 people per square Km. It is extremely low altitude, with over 26% of the country’s territory below sea level. In fact, only about 50% of the country is 1 meter above sea level.
The history of floods in the country goes back to 1134. An emerging storm at the time formed the island known as Zeeland. Another flood in 1287 killed more than 50,000 people. Frequent floods have made farming unworkable.
The high population in the country makes these floods dangerous. However, the government has invested heavily in embankment construction to protect the country from rising sea levels and floods. Other measures taken include the construction of sea defences and other river projects in which the government places residents in some areas against periodic flooding. By the end of this century it is estimated that the Dutch government will spend about € 1 billion a year on flood control.