Some of the cities that you know and love today may not be there by the end of the century. According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), sea levels could rise 10 to 12 feet by 2100 due to the collapse of the Antarctic ice sheet. Some experts predict that several major cities may be underwater by the end of the century (if not earlier).
“It’s probably very unlikely, but definitely possible,” according to William Sweet, a NOAA oceanographer. So which cities around the world may not make it to 2100? Read on to find out.
Charleston, South Carolina, Could Be A ‘Half-Drowned Ghost Town’ By 2050
This image shows two men rowing a boat as a cyclist passes nearby on a flooded street in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015. Heavy downpours triggered flooding in the city. Over the next 100 years, around 64,000 of its citizens are at risk of coastal flooding.
A few years ago, the Charleston City Paper forecast that the city could become “a half-drowned ghost town” by 2050. If the city experiences a sea level rise of 12 feet, over 75 percent of the area could be underwater.
Miami Will Likely Be Underwater By The End Of The Century
Over the next 30 years, 12,000 homes in the Miami Beach area will be vulnerable to flooding, according to a 2018 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists. These homes are valued at a total of $6.4 billion. Residents who live in Miami-Dade and Broward counties are several times more likely to be affected by rising sea levels than anyone else in America.
The problem is so bad, the city may have to raise its structures so they don’t go underwater. By the end of the century it’s pretty much guaranteed that the city will be completely flooded.
Venice, Italy, Is Building A Flood Barrier But Is Way Behind On Construction
Venice is sinking slightly less than an inch every year. In 2003, Italy started building a flood barrier in the city, but it has yet to be completed, even though it was supposed to be finished in 2011.
This photo shows tourists walking in the flooded landmark Piazza San Marco during a high-water alert while the city was inundated by near-record flooding and ferocious storms in October 2018. Meanwhile, the $6.5 billion barrier project was still in progress. Unfortunately, it was the worst flooding residents and visitors had experienced in a decade.
Houston Is Prone To Flooding Even Though It’s Not A Coastal City
This photo shows the downtown Houston skyline and flooded Highway 288 on August 27, 2017, after Hurricane Harvey hit. The non-coastal city is sinking two inches per year, and the cause is excessive groundwater pumping. As a result, Houston is prone to flooding similar to what happened after Hurricane Harvey hit.
Nearly 135,000 homes were damaged, and 30,000 people were left homeless after the storm. A rise in sea levels isn’t the problem, however. Storms and hurricanes plus the city’s low elevation and sinking terrain create a bad combination.
Atlantic City Is Very Vulnerable When Hurricanes Hit
Coastal flooding isn’t uncommon in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In 2012, the area was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. In fact, between 70 to 80 percent of the city was underwater during the storm. Some residents were forced to make their way through water that was eight feet high.
Nearly 40,000 people are at risk of coastal flooding in the city in the next century, according to the firm Climate Central. Parts of neighboring New York City are also vulnerable to flooding.
New Orleans Is Sinking Two Inches Annually
New Orleans hasn’t been the same since Hurricane Katrina hit the city back in 2005. The problem is that the city is located on a river delta, which makes it susceptible to flooding. Some areas of the city are 15 feet below sea level. Also, human activity has damaged the wetlands, which previously acted as a buffer.
In fact, parts of the city are currently sinking. According to a 2016 report by NASA, the city is sinking at a rate of two inches every year. As a result, it could be underwater by 2100.
Boston May Be Partially Submerged By 2100
Here’s a photo of a man walking slowly through a flooded sidewalk in Boston. Water flowed over from Fort Point Channel in the Seaport district during a nor’easter on March 2, 2018. While the city may not be completely submerged by the end of the century, one of six homes may be.
According to data from NOAA, the city will experience an estimated six feet rise in sea levels. It’s highly likely that the city will experience at least one flood above six feet in the next 30 years.
Virginia Beach’s Location Makes It Particularly Susceptible To Flooding
This pic from Sept. 18, 2003, shows people walking through a flooded marina as Hurricane Isabel makes landfall. The beach is located between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, making it vulnerable during major storms as the sea level rises. When considering rising water levels and sinking land, Virginia Beach’s sea levels are rising faster than almost any other city on the east coast.
By 2100, Virginia Beach’s sea level could rise as much as 12 feet, according to NOAA. The city was also struck by Hurricane Florence in 2018, which caused major flooding.
Indonesia Has A Plan To Relocate Jakarta, Which May Be Completely Underwater By 2050
In this image, the flooding in Jakarta on April 26, 2019, is evident. The city was affected after several areas were subjected to heavy rainfall. The city sinks nearly seven inches each year because of excessive groundwater pumping. It’s believed that most of the city may be underwater by 2050.
The government has responded by coming up with a plan to relocate the capital city and its 10 million residents 100 miles away from its current location. The plan will take a decade to execute and cost $33 billion.
A Rise In Sea Levels In Lagos, Nigeria, Will Produce A ‘Catastrophic Effect’
This photo shows people walking in a flooded area in Lagos, Nigeria, following a day-long torrential rain that caused the Ogun river to overflow. Rising sea levels caused by global warming combined with Lagos’ low coastline spells disaster for the largest city in Africa.
If sea levels rise three to nine feet, the action would “have a catastrophic effect on the human activities in these regions,” according to a 2012 report from the University of Plymouth. Worldwide, sea levels are expected to rise over 6.5 feet by 2100.
The People Of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Are Used To Flooding
This photo shows people walking through heavy rainfall through a water-logged street during the monsoon season in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on July 12, 2019. Unfortunately, the city doesn’t have an effective flood drainage system, so wading through water to get to work is not uncommon, and people living in slums are the most affected.
According to the New York Times, Bangladesh produces 0.3 percent of the emissions that cause climate change. It’s also dealing with rising sea levels. By 2050, 17 percent of the country’s land may be flooded by the ocean.
Bangkok, Thailand, Is Collecting Rainwater To Reduce Flooding
A vendor pushes a cart through a flooded street after heavy rain in Bangkok on June 7, 2019, in this photo. The city is sinking over one centimeter each year and may be below sea level by 2030, according to the Guardian. While it’s a big problem, the city has been taking steps to reduce the flooding.
During Thailand’s summer season, which is very rainy and prone to flooding, an 11-acre park built by an architectural firm collects as much as one million gallons of rainwater.
90 Percent Of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Is Below Sea Level
As a port city, Rotterdam is intrinsically tied to the water, from the Maas River that flows right through it to the various city harbors such as Delfshaven. Ninety percent of the city is below sea level, and as ocean levels rise, the risk of flooding increases exponentially.
The Dutch have built huge storm surge barriers to prevent flooding. And similar to Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University Centenary Park, the country has designed parks that are also used as reservoirs for the growing water levels.
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, Could Lose Its Famous Copacabana Beach
A temperature increase of just three degrees could flood Rio de Janeiro’s beaches (including Copacabana) as well as its waterfront airport. It would also flood inland areas, such as the Barra de Tijuca neighborhood, where the 2016 Olympic Games were held. The Barra is built near several lagoons that empty into the ocean.
In 2017, storm surges destroyed hundreds of meters of beachfront pavement at Macumba beach, which draws a lot of surfers. The year previously, a storm surge caused cliff erosion, and two people died.
The Beaches In Alexandria, Egypt, Are Disappearing
Alexandria, Egypt, is home to four million people, and it is the country’s second-largest city. It’s an industrial center and a port that handles the majority of Egypt’s national trade. Alexandria is one of the top cities in the Middle East most susceptible to rising sea levels caused by global warming.
One side effect is that its beaches are starting to disappear. According to NPR, the Mediterranean Sea may rise as high as two feet by the end of the century.
Manila, Philippines, Is Sinking Four Inches A Year
This photo from August 2, 2019, shows people traversing a flooded street in an inflatable boat after heavy rain in Manila, Philippines. Due to groundwater extraction, Manila is sinking at a rate of about four inches per year. This is 10 times the rate of climate-induced sea-level rise.
The other issue is the country’s extensive rice fields, which absorb more water than other crops and increase the likelihood of flooding when fish ponds are illegally placed in tidal channels.
Shanghai, China, Has Acted Aggressively To Slow Its Sinking
Groundwater extraction and building development is causing Shanghai, China, to sink. In addition, rivers are dammed, and the city is using its sediments for building materials. Fortunately, the country has acted to reduce its rate of sinking from 3.5 inches to 0.4 inches a year.
As a result, the land has risen in some areas because workers are pumping water back into the ground. Some areas have even experienced a 4.3-inch rise in land.
Key West, Florida, Got A Wake-Up Call During Hurricane Irma
According to Chris Bergh of the Nature Conservancy, Hurricane Irma in 2017 scared a lot of people in Key West. “There was so much flooding from storm surge – so much property damage and impact on natural areas – that it was like a sudden preview of what sea level rise could do to the Keys. It got people thinking.”
If the sea level rises five feet, about $27 billion in property values and 56,000 residents will be affected. “We still have a chance to address climate change,” Bergh noted. “We still have time to make changes. Nature – and people are part of nature – is very resilient.”
Galveston, Texas, Is Shrinking Relatively Quickly
The coastal highway on the west end of Galveston, Texas, is particularly vulnerable to flooding and rising sea levels. A 2007 report concluded that the highway will be completely covered within 60 years. One of the problems is that the island is sinking at a faster rate than other areas in the country.
Erosion and loss of protective wetlands are also contributing to erosion, according to Val Marmillion, managing director of America’s Wetland Foundation. Marmillion noted that the island could shrink by one third within 30 years.
Osaka, Japan, Could Be Engulfed By Rising Sea Levels
Osaka, Japan, has to deal with relentless rain and typhoons and is threatened by climate change-induced flooding. Many parts of the city are predicted to disappear if the climate goes three degrees above pre-industrial levels. This would affect almost one-third of the region’s 19 million residents.
“I’d heard that historically, tsunamis caused by earthquakes put many parts of Osaka underwater, and I knew that some parts of the world were at risk from rising sea levels,” said Keiko Kanai, who teaches at a local university. “Until now I haven’t given much thought to the idea that Osaka too could be engulfed by rising sea levels.”