Wednesday, October 07, 2009

England is sinking while Scotland rises above sea levels, according to new study

By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent, The Telegraph
Published: 12:01AM BST 07 Oct 2009

The University of Durham looked at levels of land uplift and subsidence in the British isles since the Ice Age. As the ice retreated 20,000 years ago the release of the enormous weight meant the north slowly tilted up while the south sank down. Scotland is still experiencing this "springboard" effect while southern Ireland, Wales and England continues to sink.

The new study shows that land levels could rise by up to 10cm in some areas of Scotland over the next century, offsetting the effects of sea level rise caused by global warming. But in parts of England, where the land is set to sink by up to 5cm over the next century, it could add between 10 to 33 per cent on sea level rises.

The map is the most accurate projection of land subsidence in the UK ever compiled.

The Durham team not only looked a "geophyscial" simulations, which predict what will happen to the earth's crust over time, but studied sediments in the soil at 80 sites around the country to see how the land has been changing in the past.

Prof Ian Shennan, who led the study, said soil sediments showed that sites in the north of the country are still rising.

"The action of the Ice Age on our landmass has been like squeezing a sponge which eventually regains its shape. The earth's crust has reacted over thousands of years and is continuing to react," he said.

Prof Shennan said the information could now be used, alongside predictions of sea level rises caused by climate change, to help councils and other bodies protect vulnerable areas like coastland.

"Subsidence and rising sea levels will have implications for people and habitats, and will require action to manage resorts, industrial sites, ports, beaches, salt marshes and wetlands, wildlife and bird migrations," he said.

African Cities Among Most Vulnerable to Sea-level Rise

From: African Loft

The African cities of Alexandria, in Egypt, Lagos, in Nigeria, and Monrovia, in Liberia, are among the top five cities most vulnerable to sea level rises, according to a report by the Centre for Global Development. The US think tank’s based its projections on the vulnerability of coastal populations to storm surges if sea level rises in line with U.N. projections. The report looked at cities’ geographic features, the population at risk and economic activities that would be compromised. At the top of the list is Manila, capital of the Philippines, which has been heavily hit this week by tropical storm Ketsana. Karachi, in Pakistan, Indonesia’s Jakarta and Port Said, in Egypt, were also in the top ten. - Panos, London.