Christchurch May Disappear in 100 Years Due to Rising Sea Levels

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By Reissa Su | January 8, 2014 2:10 PM EST

Some suburban areas of Christchurch may be under the water in 100 years due to rising sea levels.  In a Taylor & Tonkin report, experts have warned that South Shore, South New Brighton, Summer and Brooklands could sink if current sea levels continue to rise.

REUTERS/ Christine Brooks
Dust rises from rocks were falling from a cliff in the Christchurch suburb of Sumner moments after an earthquake struck December 23, 2011.

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The city council is making plans to prepare for a worst case scenario of a great change on Canterbury's coastline due to melting ice in Antarctica and Greenland, storm surges and warming seas.

The report may lead to a planned evacuation of residential areas like what happened to areas in the red zone after the massive earthquake that struck Christchurch in the past.  According to the insurance industry, the houses in damaged areas will become uninsurable in the long term.

The city council spent $90,000 and commissioned the report prepared by environmental consultants Tonkin & Taylor. Previous estimations of sea levels rising were not the same with the Tonkin & Taylor report.

As predicted by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), sea levels are expected to rise by half a metre by 2115 but the report has doubled the figure.  

In September 2012, the IPCC was commissioned by the United Nations to make scientific assessments on climate change risks. The IPCC released a report stating that oceans rose in temperature from 1971 to 2010.

The findings of the report will be considered when the city council prepares a district plan, according to deputy mayor Vicki Buck. Banking and other ways of flood protection will also be included in the district plan.

Ms Buck said climate change has reasonable implications not only for New Zealand but also other countries like Bangladesh, the Pacific Island and even New York which is close to the sea.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has declared 2013 as among the top 10 warmest years on record since 1850. The rising sea levels due to climate change have aggravated the effect of strong cyclones like Typhoon Haiyan that left the Philippines overwhelmed and under a state of calamity.

According to WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud, the increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere meant warmer temperatures in the future and more extreme weather. In climate change talks with almost 200 representatives from nations around the world, he said the first nine months of 2013 tied with the first nine months of 2003 with average global land and ocean surface temperature of over 48 degrees Celsius.

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(Photo: REUTERS/ Christine Brooks / )
Dust rises from rocks were falling from a cliff in the Christchurch suburb of Sumner moments after an earthquake struck December 23, 2011.
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