Coastal populations are experiencing relative sea-level rise up to four times faster than the global average, according to new research.
A new study published today in Nature Climate Change is the first to analyse global sea-level rise combined with measurements of sinking land.
The impact of subsidence combined with sea-level rise has until now been considered a local issue rather than a global one.
But the new study shows that coastal inhabitants are living with an average sea level rise of 7.8 mm - 9.9 mm per year over the past twenty years, compared with a global average rise of 2.6mm a year.
And the impacts are far larger than the global numbers reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Dr Sally Brown, Deputy Head of the Department for Life and Environmental Sciences at BU, was part of the international research team.
They assessed four components of relative sea-level change - climate induced sea-level change, the effects of glacier weight removal causing land uplift or sinking, estimates of river delta subsidence and subsidence in cities.
Sea-level measurements were taken from satellite data. The team then weighted their results by population to show their importance to people.
They found that high rates of relative sea-level rise are most urgent in South, South East and East Asia as the area has many subsiding deltas and coastal flood plains, growing coastal megacities and more than 70 per cent of the world’s coastal population.
The research was led by the University of East Anglia (UK) in collaboration with the Global Climate Forum, Berlin (Germany), Humboldt-University, Berlin (Germany), Bournemouth University (UK), Kiel University (Germany), Université de Toulouse (France), the University of Southampton (UK) and East China Normal University, Shanghai (China).
It was funded by the EC Horizon 2020 Framework Programme, IDRCEC Seventh Framework Programme, and EC Seventh Framework Programme.