Sea Level Rise: Climate Conversations

Climate Conversations: Sea Level Rise

ARTICLE · By Lucy Bedry TTF FLEGT Communications Executive · 25 March 2021

Forests are our greatest defense against extreme weather, increasing temperatures, environmental instability, and further uncertainties of the climate emergency.

‘Nature-based solutions’ or ‘ecosystem-based adaptation’, involves utilising nature to adapt to or mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. Forests are our greatest defence against extreme weather, increasing temperatures, environmental instability, and further uncertainties of the climate emergency.

Sea level rise is one of the most severe impacts of climate change and one of the impacts with the largest uncertainties. Rising waters threaten to inundate small-island nations and coastal regions by the end of the century.

Predicting global sea level rise is complex due to: drivers of historical and future sea-level rise, thermal expansion of water, melting glaciers and ice sheets, in addition to natural rising and sinking land.

Since 1900, sea levels have rinsed by between 0.18 and 0.2m. Global mean sea levels are predicted to rise by at least 0.3 metres above 2000 levels by the end of the century, even if GHG emissions follow a low path for this period. NASA determined that human activity could be seen as a direct contribution to a rise in sea level of 3.3 millimetres annually (NASA 2020). This equates to statistics that in less than 100 years, high tide levels will severely affect nearly 600 million people worldwide, with inimical impacts to the eight largest cities near the coast (U.N. Atlas of the Oceans).

Mangrove forests are an effective and cost-effective natural defence barrier to coastal flooding and shoreline erosion. These forests are found on saltwater coasts of one hundred and eighteen tropical and subtropical countries, making up an area the size of Greece (Conservation). Acting as a protective boundary to coastlines, mangrove forests absorb carbon into their soil with the ability to absorb up to four times more CO2 by area than terrestrial forests (Donato et al., 2011). Furthermore, mangroves reduce the height of wind and waves and can protect against storm surges mitigating coastal flooding.

We do not protect the forests, the forests protect us” (United Nations).

The Timber Trade Federation led Conversations about Climate Change exhibition with the Building Centre, showcases ‘HIGH TIDE’ – designed by Michael Westthorp, a Senior Lecturer in Interior at Middlesex University.  An elegant Ghanaian teak column reflects the current high tide and predictions of levels in 2120, to encourage conversation and inner conscious of the wider implications of sea-level rise to cities currently inhabiting and global climate change impacts.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provided evidence suggesting that future emissions, impacts of climate change and thus sea level rise, will be a direct consequence of policy perspectives and changes within government-led initiatives. Climate change and the magnitude of mitigation possible from nature-based solutions can play an important role in shaping the outcomes of future sea-level rise and avoiding worst-case scenarios for all predictions of climate change impacts.

Changes expected from a policy perspective implies that future emissions and the magnitude of mitigation can play an important role in shaping the outcomes of future sea-level rise and avoiding worst-case scenarios.


The conversation of High Tide has been explored in greater detail on Michael Westthorp: High Tide here

Explore the ‘In Conversation with Michael Westthorp’ to find out more about his intended conversation through design here for the Conversations about Climate Change virtual exhibition here.


High Tide, Michael Westthorpe © Chris Jackson / Building Centre


Timber supplied by Mere Plantations Ltd, with support from the Plantations Division of Ghana Forestry Commission (GFC), Timber Industry Development Division and the Government of Ghana.

Timber for the Conversations about Climate Change exhibition has been sourced through Timber Trade Federation members, in line with the TTFs Responsible Purchasing Policy – a risk management for the continuous improvement of TTF Members’ awareness of obligations under the EU / UK Timber Regulation (EUTR/ UKTR), the Constructions Product Regulation (CPR) and TTF Code of Conducts.