Home Dutch News Sea levels ‘could rise much faster’: Dutch meteorologists

Sea levels ‘could rise much faster’: Dutch meteorologists

Published on October 25, 2021

Sea levels could rise much higher than first predicted along the low-lying Dutch coastline, by up to two metres (6.5 feet) this century, Dutch meteorologists warned Monday.

As world leaders get ready to attend the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, “future scenarios show higher rising in sea levels than before, the Royal Dutch Meterological Institute (KNMI) said.

With up to 60 percent of the Netherlands vulnerable to flooding, the small northern European country could among the hardest-hit by global warming, but it is also one of the largest per capita polluters on the continent.

“If we don’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels along the Dutch coast can rise by 1,2 metres by 2100 and as much as 2.0 metres if the melting of the Antarctic polar cap accelerates,” the KNMI said in a statement.

Previously the KNMI, based near the central city of Utrecht, estimated that sea levels would at most rise by 1.0 metre.

The KNMI’s prediction is the “first time a scenario in which a rise of 2.0 metres is not being excluded,” said the Dutch Water Authorities, the public agency charged with controlling water in the country.

“Gone are the days when we could control water, land and soil as we pleased,” said water authorities chairman Rogier van de Sande.

“Drastic choices are needed” in the future planning of the Netherlands to contain the consequences of climate change, Van der Sande said.

With its storm barriers, constant innovations and thousands of kilometres of dikes and dunes, the Netherlands has long prided itself on being the “safest delta in the world”.

Since 1901, the water level off the Dutch coast has risen by about 22 centimetres (8.6 inches), roughly equivalent to the overall rise in sea levels, said the KNMI report, based on UN figures and its own research.

Some 60 percent of the Netherlands is vulnerable to flooding including its 520 kilometre (323 mile) coastline and areas close its big rivers like the Rhine and the Maas (Meuse).

Held between October 31 and November 12, the Glasgow COP26 gathering is seen as a crucial step in setting worldwide emission targets to slow global warming.