An expert has warned that increased seismic activity could potentially cause sea levels to rise faster than climate change – a concern that may impact insurance policies in active earthquake zones like New Zealand.
Shin-Chan Han, a professor at the University of Newcastle in Australia, told CGTN that sea levels in American Samoa rose at five times the global average due to land subsidence – a sinking effect in the Earth’s crust that was triggered by the Samoa-Tongan earthquakes in 2009.
“This could be even more dangerous to the region than the impact of climate change,” Han told CGTN.
“The predicted sea level rise from land subsidence in American Samoa is just as much, if not more, than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projected a rise in the Samoan Islands due to climate change under the highest CO2 emission scenario.”
According to Han, governments in earthquake zones – including New Zealand - should assess how this finding will affect their levels of preparedness. Insurers in particular may need to measure the potential impact on the insurability of properties in seismically active areas.
“Government agencies must take into account land subsidence in earthquake-affected regions,” said Han. “Tectonic movements can greatly influence the rate that sea levels rise and should be considered in addition to climate-induced changes.”