The world's coastal regions may face massive damages due to storms and surge in flooding over the course of the 21st century, a new research has predicted.
According to the study, global average storm surge damages could increase from about 10 to 40 billion dollars per year today to up to 100,000 dollars billion per year by the end of century, if no adaptation action is taken.
The study, led by the Berlin-based think-tank Global Climate Forum (GCF) and involving the University of Southampton, presents, for the first time, comprehensive global simulation results on future flood damages to buildings and infrastructure in coastal flood plains.
Drastic increases in these damages are expected due to both rising sea levels and population and economic growth in the coastal zone.
Asia and Africa may be particularly hard hit because of their rapidly growing coastal mega-cities, such as Shanghai, Manila and Lagos.
"If we ignore this problem, the consequences will be dramatic," Jochen Hinkel from GCF and the study's lead author, said.
In 2100, up to 600 million people (around 5 percent of the global population) could be affected by coastal flooding if no adaptation measures are put in place.
"Countries need to take action and invest in coastal protection measures, such as building or raising dikes, amongst other options," Hinkel said.
With such protection measures, the projected damages could be reduced to below 80 billion dollars per year during the 21st century.
The researchers found that an investment level of 10 to 70 billion dollars per year could achieve such a reduction.
Prompt action is needed most in Asia and Africa where, today, large parts of the coastal population are already affected by storm surge flooding.
The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.