Photograph — CNN

A recent research into global sea level rise has shown sea levels will rise to an average of 26 inches by the end of the century. According to reports, this is happening as a result of thermal expansion of water as influenced by the accumulation of carbon dioxide and the ongoing destabilization of earth’s ice sheets. After the successful use of satellite images by scientists to measure rates of sea level rise over the last two-and-a-half decades, figures indicate seas are rising faster over time, suggesting that African countries with coastal boundaries will suffer devastating floods if counter checks are not put in place.

“This is almost certainly a conservative estimate,” Steve Nerem, a professor and research fellow at the University of Colorado’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, said in a news release. “Our extrapolation assumes that sea level continues to change in the future as it has over the last 25 years. Given the large changes we are seeing in the ice sheets today.”

Unlike what was observed in the early 90s when seas rose at an estimated average of 0.1 inches each year, scientists are seriously troubled about the fact that seas are rising at an average of 0.13 inches per year in recent times. According to scientific observations, accelerated melting of ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica is contributing to the steady rise of sea levels.

“As this climate data record approaches three-decades, the fingerprints of Greenland and Antarctic land-based ice loss are now being revealed in the global and regional mean sea level estimates,” said Brian Beckley, a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Aside increased coastal erosions, loss of property/coastal habitats, and the noticeable changes in surface water quality following major flood incidents, the number of lives lost to the disaster is often more worrisome.

On Sunday, 10th of July, 2011, Lagos state, one of Africa’s coastal cities experienced a heavy downpour with a water level of about 3 to 5 feet in some areas. The flood, which nearly shut down the entire state, was reportedly triggered by a rise in sea level. Similarly, in the month of August of the same year, it was reported that at about 102 people may have been killed as a result of a flood in Nigeria’s largest city -Ibadan, adding to the toll of casualties claimed by natural disasters. In recent times, though less deadly, floods have become even more common in this part of the world, and its a problem.

Since seas are expected to rise for the next 300 years, the growing concern of the world, particularly from coastal territories is quite understandable. 15 out of 54 African countries are landlocked. This means that only about a third of the continent is made up of countries that have no access to the ocean or sea. The reality of this is that the other two-third; Nigeria, Uganda, Cameroon, Benin, Comoros et al, must prepare to fight the sea-rise challenge by putting counter-measures in place, while principal officeholders of concerned African countries must rise to the occasion. Organizations like the the African research institute need to facilitate intensive research into the issue and provide sustainable solutions against floods, a common challenge from sea rises.


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