Cartographers of the Times Comprehensive Atlas of the world have redrawn coastlines and land types following inundation of coastal areas due to rising sea levels as a result of global warming.
Since the atlas was last published four years ago, sea levels have lowered in some cases and risen in others, while ice caps have shrunk and lakes have almost disappeared.
AdvertisementThe atlas's editor-in-chief, Mick Ashworth, said: "We can literally see environmental disasters unfolding before our eyes. We have a real fear that in the near future famous geographical features will disappear forever".
He said climate change and ill-conceived irrigation projects were the main culprits for this change, some of which include: shrinking of the Aral Sea in Central Asia by 75 percent since 1967, shrinking of Lake Chad in Africa by 95 per cent since 1963, and lowering of the water level of the Dead Sea by 25 metres in the last five decades.
Ashworth said even sections of the Rio Grande, Yellow, Colorado and Tigris rivers were now drying out each summer. At some times of the year they even failed to reach the sea.
"The Bangladesh coastline has had to be withdrawn as more land is lost to the sea as a result of heavier monsoons and rising sea levels. Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa has lost more than 80 per cent of its ice cap in the last 100 years. The Pacific islands of Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are all under serious threat from rising sea levels," he said.
Ashworth said world population is becoming increasingly urbanised, adding that within the next year people living in towns and cities will outnumber those living in rural areas for the first time.
"In the 100 years up to 1950 the greatest population shifts took place in Europe and North America but in the last 50 years there has been a massive growth in the number of urban dwellers in the less developed countries," Ashworth said.
"By 2030 three in five 5 people (59.9 per cent) will be urbanites and the global urban population is expected to grow to 4.9B. It was 1.3B in 1970. Between 2010 and 2030 Africa and Asia are expected to account for five out of every six of the world's new urbanites," he said.
"In 1950 only New York had over 10m inhabitants now there are 18 cities of this size. By 2015 there are expected to be 22 including Africa's first "megacities" - Lagos and Cairo," he added.
However, the good news is that 13 percent of the world's land surface is now within over 107,000 designated Protected Areas worldwide, the Daily Telegraph quoted Ashworth as saying.