The formerly thriving farming expanse of the Netherland’s Noordwaard no longer exists. The area is now only expanse of reedy marshlands and the land was given back to the water.
Other areas of land could now be set to follow the same fate.
Controlled abandonment, which isn’t nice, because we somehow need to lead 10 million people somewhere
With climate change causing unprecedented sea level rise forecast, the Dutch government is racing against the time to understand how to keep one of the world’s richest countries from vanishing into the North Sea.
Sea rise forecasts vary from levels that are manageable as long as the increase is gradual, to doomsday scenarios where the rising waves would outpace the governments’ ability to respond.
Experts are now beginning to looking at potential futures on behalf of the Dutch government.
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Scientists fear rising sea levels could submerge the Netherlands by the end of the century
Climate change: The Dutch government is racing against the time to understand how to stay above the waves
The most optimistic scenarios suggest the Netherlands’ famed Dutch dikes, storm barriers, pumps, and adaptations can cope – but only up to a point.
Professor Maarten Kleinhans of Utrecht University, told Politico: “On the other end of the spectrum is controlled abandonment, which isn’t nice, because we somehow need to lead 10 million people somewhere.
“And as soon as this gets known, as soon as the s**t hits the fan, there won’t be any investments anymore and local economies will collapse.”
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“This is really a nightmare scenario, but a serious one.
“It could be less of a nightmare if we start planning now.”
A certain amount of sea rise is already inevitable, set in motion by man-made global warming and ice melting.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (IPCC) the United Nations body that collates and assesses scientific results, predicts 30 to 60cm of sea rise by 2100.
This is even if countries make good on their promises to cut emissions under the Paris Climate Agreement.
Climate change: Sea rise forecasts vary from manageable levels to doomsday scenarios
Climate change: Experts are now beginning to looking at potential futures on behalf of the Dutch government
The quicker emissions are cut, the lesser the risk of unmanageable sea level rise.
However, the developed world is consistently failing to meet these targets.
If emissions continue on current trends, the IPCC warns 84cm of sea level rise by 2100.
The worst case scenario, however, is dire, with as much as 18ft (5.4m) by 2300.
The IPCC has also warned how a rise of more than a meter by 2100 is not unlikely, and advised at-risk countries to plan accordingly.
Such a rapid rise, with accelerating increases likely to follow, would leave many countries powerless to respond on time.
Rising sea levels create a vicious cycle where the rate at which the phenomenon will accelerate.
This means the worse climate change gets, the worse it will get.
Trapped bubbles of greenhouse gases break free, increasing global warming, and running meltwater helps destroy the remaining ice.
The Antarctic ice sheet is also so large that it exerts a gravitational pull on the oceans: As it shrinks, sea water will redistribute away from the South Pole, causing an additional rise.