Rio’s Olympic Golf Course could be under water by the end of the century

Many of the world’s links golf courses will be under threat if sea levels rise due to climate change, including the iconic Old Course at St Andrews.

Recent projections have indicated that a large part of the low-lying areas of Rio de Janeiro would be under water by the end of the century if global temperatures rise by 3 degrees Celcius.

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A tri-authored piece in The Guardian titled, The three-degree world: the cities that will be drowned by global warming reports that the effects of anthropomorphic climate change and a 3C rise in global temperatures would see a severe rise in sea level and storm surges with Asian cities worst affected.

But one graphic indicates that large parts of Rio de Janeiro, host city of the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil would be inundated by the turn of the century.

In particular, the low-lying areas of Rio’s Olympic Park precinct including the site of the Gil Hanse designed Olympic Golf Course will be completely flooded if global temperatures go the way of the projections.

A map showing the how sea levels will rise around Rio de Janeiro with a 3C rise in global temperatures. (Image courtesy of The Guardian, The three-degree world: the cities that will be drowned by global warming)

By most reports Rio’s Olympic Golf Course is not only a very good one but thriving post-Olympics and can only be good for the state of the game in Brazil.

If the 3C rise in global temperatures is reached then a disappearing golf course is going to be the least of out troubles but it does raise an interesting issue with any future links golf course projects.

Not to mention the vulnerability of some of the world’s classic seaside links golf courses. St Andrews Old Course would be particularly vulnerable to any rise in sea level and future storm surges as Louise Gray at The Telegraph pointed out in 2008.

Professor Jan Bebbington, the director of the St Andrews Sustainability Institute, was asked to prepare a report visualising the effects of climate change on Scotland’s future society.

She said the old course, which is right on the sea, could be destroyed by strong storm surges caused by climate change unless protection is put in place.

“There is a lot of coastal erosion going on already because of stronger storms,” she said. “I wanted to use something iconic to demonstrate what we stand to lose.”

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