CANBERRA, Oct. 7 (Xinhua ) -- Hundreds of thousands of people living in and near the Torres Strait may have to be relocated if the causes of climate change are not addressed, Professor Ross Garnaut warned on Wednesday.
Garnaut, who drafted the Australian government's climate change review, said climate change threatened the strait and lowlands in Papua New Guinea and Irian Jaya.
Projections of a rise in sea levels of 26cm to 79cm are possible, he said, citing the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
"As we have seen from the smaller increases of the late 20th century, a rise of sea level by half a meter would have a large effect," Garnaut said.
"A warmer climate would increase the intensity of storm events, the king tides and storms would come from a higher base, and the storm surges would be stronger."
All of this would happen without the melting of land ice, which could raise sea levels by four meters or more.
"Fifty centimeters of sea level rise will make life vulnerable to the king tides and the storm surges in the places where most of the 8,000 or so Torres Strait people now live," he said.
"The number of people affected across the waters in the mainland of New Guinea, in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, would in each case be many times larger."