Climate change could cause billions of dollars in damage to coastal regions over the remainder of the 21st century.
Global storm surges could push the annual damage from today's $10 billion to $40 billion per year all the way up to $100,000 by the end of the century, a Northampton University news release reported.
"If we ignore this problem, the consequences will be dramatic," Jochen Hinkel of the Global Climate Forum (GCF) and the study's lead author said in the news release.
Rising populations and sea levels could contribute to more dramatic natural disasters that cause more damage. Asia and Africa have a heightened risk of damage because of their growing coastal cities.
"Countries need to take action and invest in coastal protection measures, such as building or raising dikes, amongst other options," Hinkel said.
"This long-term perspective is however a challenge to bring about, as coastal development tends to be dominated by short-term interests of, for example, real-estate and tourism companies, which prefer to build directly at the waterfront with little thought about the future," Professor Robert Nicholls from the University of Southampton said in the news release.
If these improvements are made damage costs could be reduced to "$80 billion per year during the 21st century and would require a $10 to $70 investment.
"Poor countries and heavily impacted small-island states are not able to make the necessary investments alone, they need international support," Hinkel said.
Regions of Asia and Africa are already highly affected by these types of disasters; coastal floods in South West England are also a growing issue.
"If we ignore sea-level rise, flood damages will progressively rise and presently good [defenses] will be degraded and ultimately overwhelmed. Hence we must start to adapt now, be that planning higher [defense]s, flood proofing buildings and strategically planning coastal land use," Nicholls said.
"If we do not reduce greenhouse gases swiftly and substantially, some regions will have to seriously consider relocating significant numbers of people in the longer run," Hinkel said.