The Impact of Sea Level Rise in the UK

Global sea level rise is accelerating. Seas are now rising by 5mm per year, which is already impacting numerous cities around the world.

Due to increased coastal flooding and erosion, up to 1.5 million UK homes may be threatened by 2080. New government policies are urgently needed to protect homes, with the chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change saying that the current approach “really isn’t fit for purpose”, with the risk of up to £212 billion in annual coastal flooding damages by 2100.

Thames Barrier

Due in part to high tides, which had not been seen in the region for over 60 years, the UK Thames Barrier was forced to close 50 times during 2013–2014, as the Barrier having a design limit of a maximum of 50 closures during each year. A total of 1.25 million people live in the Thames Tidal Basin floodplain area; these are vhighly vulnerable to the devastating impacts of flooding if the Thames Barrier were to fail or be overtaken by greater-than-expected sea-level rise.

Risk of flooding

Coastal areas are facing significant risk from flooding, in part due to rising sea levels. Many communities are not taking coastal protection for granted, even where extreme storm surge is increasingly higher than the last event, and despite many smaller areas lacking criteria for government funding for flooding defense.