Global sea levels could rise by more than two metres by the end of this century if emissions continue in a “business as usual” scenario, a United Nations body has warned.

The international team of researchers said this would have “catastrophic” consequences for the whole world, forcing 187 million people off their land.

Parts of London, Los Angeles, New York and Rio de Janiero could be submerged, leaving 1.79 million km2 of land lost globally, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

“The results were worse than we anticipated”, lead researcher Jonathan Bamber, from the University of Bristol told The Independent.

If emissions continue to grow unchecked in the “business as usual” scenario, global temperatures could increase by 5°C by 2100, the report states.

“Five degrees warming by 2100 is a pretty awful scenario, you just don’t want to think about the consequences of that for the whole planet. It would mean that we as a species and many parts of the Earth’s systems would be under serious threat”, Prof Bamber said.

The findings suggest coastal communities should not rule out the possibility of 21st century sea level rise in excess of two metres when developing adaptation strategies.

Read more: Independent