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Coastal populations at risk as climate changes

A trend has emerged since the mid-1970s where storms tend to last longer and be more intense, with a strong correlation to the rise in tropical sea surface temperature. Several large African cities are at risk from rising sea levels and intense storms, experts warn. In such low-income urban centres, infrastructure is often non-existent or ill-maintained, while storm-water drainage infrastructure is often outdated and inadequate. In sub-Saharan Africa, storm surge zones are concentrated in Madagascar, Mauritania, Mozambique and Nigeria. These countries alone account for about half (53 percent) of the total increase in the region’s surge zones resulting from sea level rise and intensified storms. "Coastal flooding has started to be of concern in the last 10 to 15 years. Now, a few times each year, there are people who wake up in water." In 50 years, some coastal towns in Mozambique will disappear if nothing is done - such as Nacala, Beira, Quelimane and Mahajanga. Coastal agriculture, in terms of extent of croplands, will be affected 100 percent in Nigeria, 66.67 percent in Ghana, and 50 percent in Togo and Equatorial Guinea. Mauritania is experiencing the impact of a changing climate exemplified by a steadily creeping desert and other extreme weather events. It is one of the countries likely to be worst affected by intensified storm surges. An average 78 million people worldwide are exposed each year to tropical cyclone wind hazard and another 1.6 million to storm surges. In terms of economic exposure, an annual average of $1,284 billion in GDP is exposed to tropical cyclones. "Currently 10 percent of the world’s total population (over 600 million people) and 13 percent of its urban population (over 360 million people) live on the 2 percent of the world’s land area that is less than 10m above sea level, known as the Low Elevation Coastal Zone."
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