Dublin coastline at risk: experts warn of 1.7m sea level rise by 2100

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Dublin Coastline at Risk: Experts Warn of 1.7m Sea Level Rise by 2100, Concept art for illustrative purpose, tags: dublin's - Monok

At the Dublin Climate Summit, scientists projected that Dublin’s coastline would experience a submergence of up to 1.7 meters due to rising sea levels by the end of this century. This alarming prediction raises questions about whether such an event should be perceived as climate alarmism or a devastating reality that requires preparation.

In such an event, approximately 8,500 structures along the Dublin coastline and River Liffey are at risk of being damaged by flooding. Critical infrastructure, including power plants and financial districts, may also be at risk of destruction, as indicated by Cervest, a climate technology company.

We’ve passed the tipping point for big ice masses like Greenland and West Antarctica which could see 3-4m sea level rises in the centuries ahead.

Professor John Sweeney

In a sobering admission, geographer and climatologist Professor Sweeney conceded that Dublin’s coastline is now at a tipping point, with sea levels rising faster than they are falling. He went on to explain that the melting of major ice caps such as Greenland and West Antarctica has already passed a critical point, which means that a significant rise in sea levels, potentially reaching up to 3-4 meters, is unavoidable in the centuries to come.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Mícheál Martin accentuates the importance of unified efforts to combat climate change, conveying his concern that many people remain oblivious to the dire consequences that lie ahead.

“It worries me that collectively, do people really get a sense of how serious this is?” he commented, adding, “Then you get the whataboutery – ‘sure we’re just a small country, if China did this and so on,’ but we all have to make the contribution.”

Risk reductions measures

In light of these concerning predictions, the city is actively confronting the possibility of devastating floods and enduring inundation.

The Dublin City Development Plan 2016-2022 has strategically postponed major construction in flood-prone zones such as Sandymount, Irishtown, Ringsend, and East Wall. This pause will remain in effect until enhanced flood barrier projects are completed.

While acknowledging the flood risk in these localities, the plan also confirms the efficacy of the existing coastal defenses in Clontarf, including rock armors and promenades, against rising sea levels. Additionally, the plan notes that the newly erected flood defenses are equipped to handle an increase in river flow by 20%.

The Dublin City Council has projected that the region’s planned, wide-ranging flood defense measures may not be finalized before 2027.

Green Party Councillor Donna Cooney highlights the alarming trend that the once-in-a-century flooding events in Dublin are now projected to occur approximately every forty years, making it crucial for decisive action to be taken without further delay.

We could have adequate flood defence via a cycle way with walls on both sides and nature-based solutions like plant features to soak up excess rainwater

Councillor Donna Cooney

The impact of rising sea levels is not limited to Dublin. The same phenomenon will also threaten major European cities such as Lisbon, Marseille, Napoli, Athens, and Istanbul. This concern is underscored by forecasts that predict the thermal expansion of ocean waters and the melting of Antarctic ice will likely cause sea levels to rise beyond the one-meter threshold predicted by the IPCC by the year 2100.

Implementing robust, long-lasting flood defenses, including elevated cycling infrastructure with protective walls and eco-friendly natural barriers, is essential to safeguard Dublin’s at-risk coastal communities from the detrimental effects of rising sea levels.

By thoughtfully integrating aesthetics, functionality, and biodiversity into flood defense designs, sustainable solutions can be created to protect Dublin’s most vulnerable coastal areas without compromising local amenities.

Investing substantially in flood defense infrastructure now is imperative to secure a comfortable and resilient future for generations to come, even if the immediate benefits may not be readily apparent. This proactive approach will help safeguard Dublin’s most vulnerable coastal areas from the devastating consequences of rising sea levels.

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