General Article The complicated truth about sea-level rise

Topic Selected: Climate Change
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By Eilif Ursin Reed

It makes plain sense that on islands where the highest elevation is sometimes less than two metres, the IPCC’s predicted sea-level rise of up to 58 cm by 2100 will cause devastation.

Or does it? Things that seem obvious at first glance, usually turn out to be more complicated if you look closer. So too with climate change.

In spite of the attention devoted to tropical islands over the last few years, with stories about ‘climate refugees’ and whole nations being forced to move off their islands because of sea-level rise, research on the subject has been scarce.

There is little doubt that climate change is happening. It is highly probable that we will experience sea-level rise this century and with it an increase in severe flooding events. However, how and to what extent this will affect the islanders of the world is a different story. Not necessarily a happier one, but it could at least be one about capabilities, adaptation, knowledge and resilience; rather th...

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