As the sea level rises and storms become more intense due to the effects of climate change, a new study predicts that damage to coastal cities will cost $1 trillion every year by 2050. The research, which is published in the August 18 edition of the journal Nature Climate Change, states that areas along the edges of Asia and North America are the most vulnerable. In the United States, New York, New Orleans, and Miami are singled out as being at high risk.

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Co-author of the study, Robert Nicholls from the University of Southampton in England, asserts that if no action is taken to mitigate the influences of global warming that storms will become stronger and more frequent. These instances of extreme weather, such as Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, will batter the coasts and cost trillions in rebuilding and prevention efforts.

Nicholls and his colleagues took data from over 136 cities with populations of over one million and factored in their elevation, types of flood prevention, infrastructure, and distribution of its residents. Combining this with economic projections of gross domestic products, estimations of sea level rise, and population growth, they determined a monetary figure. In both their best and worst case models, the global bill reached over $1 trillion.

The scientists single out Guangzhou, China as being in the most danger, followed by Mumbai and Kolkata in India, Guayaquil, Ecuador and Shenzen, China. A majority of the cities at risk reside in North America and Asia. If governments are not spurred to take solid steps towards addressing climate change for the sake of the environment and the well being of their citizens, perhaps the looming specter of a massive bill will be enough to encourage politicians to take action.

+ University of Southampton

Via Livescience

Images via Wikicommons users Jccohen  and Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen, New Jersey Coast Guard.