The Local Effect of Climate Change report, published on Monday by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL), predicts major problems with flooding across southern Sweden as sea levels rise.
The worst case scenario, if temperatures rise by more than 4C, would see Malmö's upmarket Western Harbour area completely submerged by the end of the century, the report claims, citing an analysis by state weather forecaster SMHI.
“Large parts of Malmö's harbour area are at risk of being sunk underwater, together with important infrastructure like the station area and several important road. The sea water will also come far up the Sege River.”
According to the report, Malmö also faces localized flooding from the bursts of extremely heavy rain that are expected to become much more common as the climate warms. When the city received 125mm of rain on August 31st, 2014, the resulting flooding caused 600-700 million Swedish kronor of damage.
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The amount of water in a so-called 100-year rain event will increase by 26 percent between 2041 and 2070 and as much as 52 percent by 2071 to 2100, the report found, leading to more frequent devastating floods.
“The immediate consequence of flooding is on people's health and, in the worst case, death,” the report wrote. “Buildings and other property can also be damaged, while infrastructure can be destroyed or broken.”
The report says that building new coastal barriers may be necessary to protect important parts of the city and barriers built in front of the harbour which can be raised to prevent water flooding in during particularly high tides.
The city is already working on plans to direct water from heavy rainstorms to green space such as football pitches and playgrounds. These could then be deliberately flooded, saving property and roads.
Extreme rain events will cause major flooding in pockets across the city of Malmö. Photo: SKL
Carola Gunnarsson, vice chairman of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, said that the report underlined the urgency of action.
“Release of carbon dioxide must be reduced sharply at the same time as society readies itself for the climate changes which have already started happening,” she said during a presentation of the paper on Monday at the Almedalen political festival on the island of Gotland.