Global landmarks under threat from climate change

Wednesday 05 March 2014 11.30
Researchers say the Statue of Liberty is among the famous landmarks under threat from global warming
Researchers say the Statue of Liberty is among the famous landmarks under threat from global warming

The Statue of Liberty, Tower of London and Sydney Opera House are among the global landmarks that could be lost to the sea, if the current rate of global warming persists. 

A new international study published this morning is warning that 100 UNESCO World Heritage Sites could be affected by sea level rises.

The authors of the research published in the Journal of Environmental Research Letters, base their findings on a temperature rise of 3C above pre-industrial levels over the next 2,000 years.

They claim the assessment is not particularly extreme given current climate change trends. 

Researchers applied their model to the list of 720 sites on the current UNESCO World Heritage site list, and found that within two millennia 136 of them would be inundated by the sea following rising water levels.

Among the sites to be affected would be the Statue of Liberty, Independence Hall, Tower of London and Sydney Opera House. 

Also affected would be the city centres of Bruges, Naples, Riga and St Petersburg; Venice and its lagoon; Robben Island; and Westminster Abbey.

The study also discovered that 7% of the current global population would be living on land that would be below sea level in such a scenario, and that the distribution of the affected population was uneven with more than 60% in China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Seven countries, including the Maldives, Bahamas and Cayman Islands, would lose 50% of their land and a further 35 countries would lose 10% of their land.

Lead author of the study, Professor Ben Marzeion from the University of Innsbruck said, "Sea levels are responding to global warming slowly but steadily because the key processes involved, ocean heat uptake and melting continental ice, go on for a long while after the warming of the atmosphere has stopped."