Special Report

28 Amazing Places That Could Be Underwater by 2050

Source: Helen Storer / iStock via Getty Images

16. North Norfolk coastline
> Site: East Anglia, England

The North Norfolk coast, northeast of London, has been officially designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for its pristine beaches, clear skies, dramatic cliffs, and salt marshes and wetlands — home to varied wildlife. Coastal flooding would submerge the area, as well as the Fens, the reclaimed marshland between Norfolk and Lincolnshire, and even the fabled cathedral city of Ely further inland.

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17. Casco Viejo
> Site: Panama City, Panama

With its superb collection of 17th- and 18th-century churches, palaces, and plazas, the old quarter of Panama City — a part known as the Casco Viejo, or Old Town, and also as San Felipe — was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997. Built on a spur of land jutting out into Panama Bay, it will slowly disappear if the Pacific continues to rise.

Source: Maedward / Wikimedia Commons

18. Herschel Island-Qikiqtaruk Territorial Park
> Site: Beaufort Sea, Yukon Territory, Canada

A territorial park covers much of this stark, often icebound island, which boasts a unique Arctic ecosystem that encompasses animals, sea birds, and aquatic life, as well as species of vegetation that exist only in Yukon. “Climate change is shifting the ecological forces that shape the island,” according to a 2019 report by the Yukon government.

The decrease in sea ice and substantial coastal erosion make it particularly susceptible to rising ocean levels, and in 2008, the World Monuments Fund placed the island on its “100 Most Endangered Sites” watch list.

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19. French Quarter
> Site: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

The French Quarter in this historic city, designated as a National Historic Landmark, is known for its bars and restaurants, its music scene, its permissive street life, and its Creole and American Victorian townhouses. While an extensive new levee system was installed after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and though the Quarter wasn’t among the most seriously affected parts of the city during that catastrophe, this definitive part of the city is still likely to be at risk of severe flooding if sea levels continue to rise.

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20. Ancient Culture Street
> Site: Tianjin, China

A major port city in northeastern China, just southeast of Beijing, Tianjin is a major financial center and ranked as one of the world’s top 25 science cities by the Nature Index. It is also the home of Gǔ Wénhuà Jiē, or Ancient Culture Street — a pedestrian thoroughfare along the Hai River with ornate temple gates, an elaborate palace, a Daoist temple, frescoed doors and windows, hundreds of shops selling local handicrafts, and numerous street food stands.

According to Earth.org, Tianjin is highly vulnerable to sea level rise, and could be drowned as early as 2030, Ancient Culture Street along with it.