Sea level rise could dramatically threaten London.
With the immediacy of global climate change, it’s impossible to escape the frightening headlines about the current trajectory of Earth if our actions and lifestyles remain unchanged. Just last month, it was the news that London’s climate could be as hot as Barcelona’s by the year 2050, and now a climate modelling map has given us another glimpse into London’s future – and it looks pretty watery.
Climate Central‘s Coastal Risk Screening Tools allow you to explore the future of places across the globe if sea level rise from melting polar ice caps remains unchecked. If an ice sculpture of Sir David Attenborough was a whimsical way to impress upon us the speed of melting, this map is an entirely sobering one. We’re assuming a sea level rise of 1.3 metres by the year 2100 (based on the findings of a panel of 100 experts from the Climate & Atmospheric Science journal, published in 2020) for the projection, and it puts plenty of the capital underwater.
Naturally, it’s the areas around the Thames that are most dramatically affected; still, it’s a pretty staggering list. Barnes, Wandsworth, Nine Elms, Battersea, Elephant & Castle, Bermondsey, Rotherhithe, Surrey Quays, Deptford, Greenwich, Charlton, Limehouse, Wapping, Canary Wharf, Beckton, Thamesmead, Dagenham, and Canning Town are the areas that will bear the brunch of sea level rise if this projection comes to pass.
That’s to say nothing of the landmarks that will be consumed by the Thames in this scenario, which include Battersea Park, Craven Cottage football stadium, London City Airport, Shakespeare’s Globe, large parts of the South Bank, and even Tate Modern. The waters could reach so far inland that even Westfield Stratford City may find itself underwater, based on these projections. Meanwhile, mainline rail routes through Clapham Junction and London Bridge stations would be submerged, to say nothing of the other transport links (including Tube stations) in at-risk neighbourhoods.
That 1.3 metre rise is predicated on a 3.5 degree warming of the Earth’s surface, and would obviously have a devastating impact on our capital. With 80 years until such a scenario comes to pass, there’s obviously some time to change the future and mitigate the worst impacts of climate change; were the 2016 Paris Agreement to be fulfilled, for instance, it’s believed that sea level rise could be capped at as little as 43 centimetres. However, as any self-respecting climate scientist will tell you, time is rapidly running out.
You can learn more about sea level rise and find out how to take action on the Climate Central website.
Also published on Medium.