Major cities, including Kolkata, at risk from rising sea level

Major cities, including Kolkata, at risk from rising sea level London: A large number of cities across the world, including the eastern Indian metropolis of Kolkata, are at risk from the threat of rising sea level due to global warming, a major international study has claimed.

According to the study by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, sea levels would rise by twice as much as previously predicted as a result of global warming and by 2100 they would be up to 1.4 metres.

Such a rise in sea levels would engulf island nations such as the Maldives in the Indian Ocean and Tuvalu in the Pacific, devastate coastal cities such as Calcutta and Dhaka and force London, New York and Shanghai to spend billions on flood defences, 'The Times' reported.

Even if the average global temperature increases by only 2C -- the target set for next week's Copenhagen summit -- sea levels could still rise by 50 cm, twice that predicted two years ago, the study has calculated.

SCAR, a partnership of 35 of the world's leading climate research institutions, made the prediction in the report 'Antarctic Climate Change and Climate'. It far exceeds the 0.59 metre rise by the end of the century quoted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007.

SCAR scientists said that the IPCC underestimated grossly how much the melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets would contribute to total sea-level rises.