University researchers have warned that a huge area south of Vancouver could be 4ft (1.2 metres) under water by the end of the century.

University of British Columbia scientists said that the South Delta area, which has a population of 100,000 and is surrounded on three sides by water, is at high risk of rising sea levels.

Barrier islands to absorb the impact of incoming storms is one engineering option being looked at. Wholescale moving of communities to higher land is a more drastic option, said the researchers.

Residents and workers in the area are being shown what could happen if sea levels continue to rise as a result of global warming.

"The visualisations are the only way that you can tell the complete story of climate change and its impact in a low-lying coastal community," said research scientist David Flanders.

"Communities will have to decide what their priorities are and plan for a mosaic of different solutions, because each neighbourhood has its own set of concerns and its own idea of what will be possible.

"This visioning process can help inform these kinds of tough decisions that many low-lying communities will have to make over the next 20, 50 and 100 years," he said.