• Why the UK's Coastal Towns Will Be Most Affected by Climate Change

Why the UK's Coastal Towns Will Be Most Affected by Climate Change

Jun 25 2020 Read 479 Times

As climate change continues to dominate our headlines and fears over global warming grow ever larger, it has become clear that those living in coastal areas will be most susceptible to sustaining the worst impacts of the crisis. That’s due to the fact that the melting of the polar ice caps and the warming of marine temperatures in general will lead to rising sea levels, causing erosion and flooding along Britain’s coastlines.

Now, the scale and immediacy of that threat has become alarmingly clear thanks to a new report from the Environment Agency (EA). Named National Coastal Erosion Risk Mapping (NCERM), the research has predicted that there are approximately 7,000 households across the UK who will be forced to deal with the impacts of coastal erosion before 2100. What’s more, there are a further 513,000 homes in areas of high risk to coastal flooding which could happen right now.

Beside the seaside

A property on the UK’s fringes has often been seen as a desirable piece of real estate, due to sweeping ocean views and close proximity to the beach. However, it’s not all plain sailing for those who live beside the seaside, since they often have to deal with the degradation of coastal waters as a result of the agriculture-water interface, which can see rivers, waterways and shorelines contaminated by slurry, agricultural run-off and other improperly disposed of wastewater.

Unfortunately, another issue is likely to become even more problematic in the coming years and decades – flooding and erosion. Unless drastic action is taken urgently, it’s almost inevitable that global temperatures will increase by 1.5°C and that hike is likely to exceed 2°C, the maximum ceiling agreed upon at the Paris Climate Summit in 2015. That will lead to a projected rise in sea levels of 69cm by 2100, even if emissions are curbed. In a high-emissions scenario, the rise could reach 111cm.

Over half a million homes at risk

The EA report makes for alarming reading, especially for those living in coastal locations. Flood management is a difficult proposition at the best of times, but in the face of rising sea levels, coastal inundations are only likely to become more prevalent all across the UK. According to the government’s environment minister Thérèse Coffey, one in six Britons are already at high risk of flooding and the figure will only rise as the effects of climate change make themselves felt.

Meanwhile, coastal erosion could be an even bigger problem for many homeowners. With 230ft of the British mainland expected to be lost to the sea in the next two decades, there are thousands of houses in danger of having the rug figuratively and literally pulled from beneath them. Norfolk, Suffolk and East Riding of Yorkshire were home to the three most-at risk communities, but the report shows they are to be found both in the north and south of the country.

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