Global warming and rising sea levels

Rising waters are a phenomenon that has increased in recent years due to global warming.

But what is exactly this risk?

Global warming has raised sea levels by about 8 inches since 1880, and the rate of rise is accelerating. Rising sea levels increase the risk of damaging flooding from storm surges.

According to an IPCC report sea level could rise by 1.10m by 2100.

Rising waters are a phenomenon that directly affects coastal cities. In France, cities such as Bordeaux, Rouen, Calais and even Dunkirk are directly threatened by this climatic phenomenon. All the coastal cities in France have 1.4 million inhabitants in 864 municipalities. It is therefore, not an isolated risk.

In the United States, nearly 5 million people live less than 4 feet above high tide, which directly puts you at risk of rising sea levels.

In the 21st century, the rate of sea level rise could be 100 times faster, from 3.6 millimeters per year today to “several centimeters”, and then reach several meters in total by 2300, if none no action has been taken to reduce CO2 emissions.

Coastal planning to cope with rising water

Cities are trying to adapt to rising sea levels by implementing more extensive coastline monitoring. Several options exist to protect the habitat. We can thus cite the installation of dykes, the elevation of housing, the creation of buffer zones, re-silting or even riprap.

Become aware of the risk to better face it

In order to protect yourself against increasingly frequent climatic risks, you must first of all be aware of the risk. Awareness is indeed paramount in protection, because it will allow everyone to take action.

However, awareness of the risk is still low in France. The effects of risk such as those of sea level rise are often invisible and distant.

For a threat to be taken seriously it must be: concrete, immediate and unbearable. However, effective actions against the risk must be taken upstream of the latter and not when it occurs.

However, we note that there is a low awareness of risk in France. Climate risks and specifically those due to global warming such as sea level rise seem abstract and are part of a distant reality.

Thus, according to a study carried out in Palavas les Flots, a French seaside town in 2009, 20% of those questioned declared that they would not leave in the event of rising water.

Similarly, we see that coastal cities continue to attract. According to the National Observatory for the Sea and the Coast, the density of the population on the coast is 25% higher than the national average. In addition and by 2040, 40% of the French population should live in the coastal regions especially around the Mediterranean and on the Atlantic coast.

Rising sea levels are therefore a climatic risk, which must be recognized because it will be a phenomenon for coastal cities which will increase in magnitude for the decades to come and which must be guarded against.

Source: Bilan 2007 des changements climatiques Conséquences, adaptation et vulnérabilité

France, the 15th country most affected by natural disasters

Multiple floods, heat waves, storms, Mediterranean episode, Cevennes rains: France is exposed to numerous natural disasters.

For the past twenty years, France has faced increasingly frequent natural risks. Between flood, storm or heat wave, all these phenomena hit the French territory as well as the population each year.

According to a report made public on Wednesday December 4, 2019 by the German Think Tank Germanwatch, France is in 15th place among the countries most exposed to climate risks. Germany is also included in this ranking and also classified red (11th to 20th country).

Also in red, India, Madagascar, Bangladesh, El Salvador and Haiti.

A heavy record

How to explain this classification?

Since the beginning of the 90s, France has suffered from climatic events of great magnitude as in 1999 with a storm which caused the death of 35 people. In 2010, it was the storm Xynthia, which left their mark causing the deaths of 53 people, as well as extensive property damage.

The floods have also taken their toll, as has not been seen in recent years. Thus, flash floods have caused the death of many people in recent years.

Heavy rains hit L’Aude in 1999, causing 34 deaths. In 2018, the Aude was again hit by major floods. A very heavy record was to deplore, 15 people died, 99 injured and 257 municipalities were recognized in a state of natural disaster (204 in Aude, 29 in Hérault and 24 in Tarn).

The meteorologist Guillaume Séchet, author of the book Météo extreme (Ed. Hugo Image) explains “Because of global warming, it is estimated that France will suffer, by 2100, about 20% more Mediterranean episodes, The waterproofing of the soil being more and more important and the demographic pressure increasing in these regions, the consequences of these extreme phenomena will be more dramatic in the long term than they were a few years ago”.

These increasingly frequent and significant risks in terms of loss of life and property damage also represent a real adaptation challenge for insurers. Indeed, the floods that took place between the end of May and the beginning of June 2016 cost more than 1.4 billion euros. These are therefore the most costly floods since the creation of the natural disaster regime in 1982.

Spatial planning a necessity to face the risk

The resilience of territories and buildings is a theme intrinsically linked to that of natural risk. Indeed, cities have a great role to play in protecting populations and must therefore adapt to the risk. With regard to buildings, their design must be redesigned to meet the requirements imposed by natural hazards. They must therefore be stronger, but also better insulated to cope with the increasingly common heat waves. The Germanwatch NGO estimates that periods of extreme heat will be 100 times more likely than a century ago.

At Ogoxe, resilience is also at the heart of the solutions we develop. Our solutions allow infrastructures to be protected thanks to our real-time alert system.