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Climate Change: Sea Level

House of Lords written question – answered on 8th May 2008.

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Photo of Lord Dykes Lord Dykes Spokesperson in the Lords (Europe), Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs, Spokesperson in the Lords (Cap Reform), Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the United Kingdom is facing particular problems from the rise in world sea level, especially in low-lying and heavily populated areas, as outlined in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's fourth assessment report.

Photo of Lord Rooker Lord Rooker Minister of State (Sustainable Farming, Food and Animal Welfare), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Sustainable Farming, Food and Animal Welfare)

Rising sea levels is an issue that affects many coastal areas both in the UK and around the world. The fourth assessment report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that world sea levels could rise by 0.18m to 0.59m (relative to 1980 to 1999) by the end of the 21st century, as a result of global warming. These estimates do not include future changes in ice dynamics, which could increase the contribution of ice sheets to sea level rise over the 21st century. The AR4 identified low-lying islands in the Pacific and flood plain deltas like Bangladesh as particularly vulnerable regions.

For the United Kingdom, the impact of sea level rise on flooding and coastal erosion is certainly a challenge and risk for Defra and operating authorities (Environment Agency, local authorities and internal drainage boards). The potential increase in intensity, severity and frequency of coastal storms, as another consequence of climate change, also needs to be considered in this context. The risks may include an increased frequency of coastal flooding, with greater potential for coastal erosion.

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