Special Report

Cities Around the World That Will Soon Be Underwater

Sea level rise — resulting in the flooding and eventual disappearance of land — is one of the most well-known and serious problems facing humans as a result of climate change. Low-lying areas around the world are all at risk. By the end of this century, land currently home to 200 million people will likely be permanently below the high-tide line.

Because of the economic benefits associated with access to water — for example, shipping routes, fisheries, tourism, and recreation — dense urban areas have long been concentrated along coastal regions. Today, about 40% of the world’s population lives within 60 miles of the coast. 

As the climate crisis intensifies, however, coastal living has become a major liability. Global sea levels are projected to rise between 2 and 7 feet by 2050, and possibly more. By the end of the century, sea levels could rise as much as 20 feet. In this scenario, the United States alone would lose nearly 50,000 square miles, which today are home to 23.4 million people. 

Frequent flooding is one of the first problems associated with sea level rise. Coastal areas of Bangladesh and Vietnam, for example, which are home to 43 million and 31 million people, respectively, are likely to experience saltwater flooding several times a year by 2050.  

Two of the cities selected for our list are in the United States. For more, here are the American cities that will soon be underwater.

24/7 Wall St. used data from Climate Central — an independent organization of scientists and journalists researching and reporting on climate change — to identify 25 major metropolitan areas and urban agglomerations that are projected to be at risk of substantial flooding by 2050 as a result of sea level rise due to climate change. The data assembled by Climate Central is documented in the report, “New elevation data triple estimates of global vulnerability to sea-level rise and coastal flooding.” published in October 2019 in Nature: 

These projections are near the high end of the range of sea level futures anticipated by the scientific community as of 2019. We elected to concentrate on the high-risk scenario because, while there are still steps the world can take to address the problems of climate change, we are not on track to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals. Here are 21 strategies that could avert climate disasters.

Click here to see 25 cities around the world that will soon be underwater
Click here to see our full methodology

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