Vast areas of Algarve will be underwater by 2050, says study

A terrifying study released on Tuesday shows vast areas of the Algarve will be underwater by 2050, irrespective of any action on climate change.

The study, accessible here, reveals flooded areas as one enlarges the interactive map.

Starting at the border with Spain, areas underwater are those around Cacela Velha, Tavira, Santa Luzia, Praia do Barril, Fuzeta, Olhão, the islands of Ria Formosa, large parts of Faro, areas around Vilamoura, Armação de Pêra, Praia da Rocha, Alvor, Lagos (principally around Meia Praia and running inland) and Boca do Rio.

On the west coast, some areas like the valley running up to the back of Aljezur – clearly once filled by seawater – appears set to return to the days of yesteryear.

Elsewhere in the country, danger areas include the Tejo and Sado estuaries, parts of Aveiro and Figueira da Foz.

In the wider sphere, the study suggests the lives of 300 million people will be affected – the majority of them in Asia.

Published on the website ‘nature communications’, the introduction explains that ‘central estimates’ broadly agree that global mean sea level is likely to rise 20-30 cm by 2050. End of century projections diverge more, with typical central estimates ranging from 50-70 cm, up to 70-100cm.

Here, Diário de Notícias has published the more alarming screenshots of the map, stressing that thanks to its long coast, “Portugal has several areas of risk”.

The bottom line, the paper admits, is that “it appears too late for whatever we do today to change what’s coming in 31 years time”.

What we can change, however, is what will come after that – and for this to be possible, say the authors of the study, the limits set by the Paris Accord have be accomplished.

The Paris Accord set out to ensure that global warming did not exceed 2º above pre-industrial levels, and ideally would stay around the 1.5º mark.

The authors of this new study both work out of independent organisation Climate Central, which describes itself as being made up of “leading scientists and journalists researching and reporting the facts about our changing climate and its impact on the public”.

They reached their findings via the use of new, or rather improved, elevation data.

Their research is being widely published today by reputable sources, including the New York Times which focuses on flooding likely to come in the Middle East.

Citing a retired military general currently on the advisory board of the Center for Climate and Security – a research and advocacy group in Washington – the paper suggests the situation has become “far more than an environmental problem. It’s a humanitarian, security and possibly military problem too”.

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