BBC World News Horizons examines rising sea levels across the globe

If you ignore it, then some time in the future you’re going to have a massive flood, you’re going to have a hurricane Katrina or a Super Storm Sandy, and you’ll really have much higher damage, and you will be forced to do things maybe you wouldn’t have done."Robert Nicholls, Professor of Coastal Engineering, University of Southampton
Date: 19.11.2013     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.02
Category: BBC World News
In the next episode of the series, Adam Shaw meets with Robert Nicholls, professor of Coastal Engineering at University of Southampton in the UK. Nicholls has spent decades studying the impact of climate on the world's coastlines.

In years to come, leading scientists forecast rising sea levels, more flooding and an increase in the number of super storms. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted sea-levels could rise by as much as 59cm by the next century, which could affect over 600 million people living in low-lying coastal areas in 180 countries.

Professor Nicholls says: “If you ignore it, then some time in the future you’re going to have a massive flood, you’re going to have a hurricane Katrina or a Super Storm Sandy, and you’ll really have much higher damage, and you will be forced to do things maybe you wouldn’t have done. So the key issue with sea level rise is preparedness, and starting that preparedness now.”

Adam also travels to New York City to talk with Stephen Cassell, who leads the Architecture Research Office. His practice believes we should look to nature to protect the world’s megacities from flooding. This involves a natural buffer zone with the sea, containing absorptive concrete, as well as engineered soil and wetlands that channel storm surges back to the sea.

The programme then heads to San Francisco Bay, which is at risk of flooding. The South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project aims to turn an area of derelict industrial salt ponds back into tidal marshes, protecting vulnerable areas such as Silicon Valley. This billion-dollar, 50-year project hopes to be a cheaper and greener way to protect some of California’s most susceptible coastal areas from the sea.

The Horizons team also visits Tokyo, Japan, which is prone to flooding. One engineering solution is the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel or G-Cans. It is a 20-year, $2 billion project to build the world’s largest underground flood water diversion facility, designed to channel water away from the city streets.

Broadcasting Saturday 23 November and Sunday 24 November 2013.

The Horizons series, sponsored by DuPont, airs weekly on Saturdays at 2.30am and 8.30am, Sundays at 2.30pm and 9.30pm (all times GMT).

The sponsorship arrangement was facilitated by BBC Advertising, which sells advertising and sponsorship solutions on behalf of BBC World News and bbc.com.

Further information, online videos and behind the scenes content can be found at bbc.com/horizonsbusiness (non-UK only) or follow Horizons on Facebook: facebook.com/horizonsTVseries and/or on twitter at @horizonsbiz.

Notes to Editors

BBC World News and bbc.com/news, the BBC's commercially funded international 24-hour news and information platforms, are owned and operated by BBC Global News Ltd, a member of the BBC’s commercial group of companies. BBC World News is available in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide, and over 350 million households and 1.8 million hotel rooms. The channel's content is also available on 164 cruise ships, 53 airlines and 23 mobile phone networks. For further information on how to receive BBC World News, download schedules or find out more about the channel, visit bbc.com/tvschedule.

bbc.com is one of the most respected brands on the internet and the global news content on the site offers up-to-the minute international news and in-depth analysis for PCs, tablets and mobile devices to more than 58 million unique users each month.

For more information on BBC Advertising and sponsorship opportunities, see advertising.bbcworldwide.com.

JC