29 December 2020 | 3 minutes.

Coastal Cities

By 2100, global temperatures will likely surpass the 2°C limit set by the 2015 Paris Agreement, potentially reaching 3-4°C. Such an increase would see water levels rise by 5-10 meters and displace around 300 million people – roughly the population of the United States. But the people that will be most affected by coastal flooding are those living in the southern hemisphere.

The world’s oceans and seas are getting warmer, with projections showing global sea temperatures rising by 2-4°C by 2100. What does this mean for our coastal cities?

In 2015, Climate Central mapped over 200 cities that will be impacted by rising sea levels. Based on these projections, REVOLVE has highlighted the 100 most populous cities at risk of a 3°C rise in sea temperatures. While some cities, such as Amsterdam, are well prepared, many of the most populous cities, predominantly in East and South East Asia, are not.

Over the next 150 years, we will witness the next great human migration. While some coastlines begin to go under and climates become increasingly volatile, it is projected that over 300 million people will be displaced, putting increased pressure on our already crowded planet.

Can Tho, Vietnam. Located in the Mekong delta, Can Tho is one of the most vulnerable cities in Vietnam to a future rise in sea levels. Photo: Vince GX.
Alexandria, Egypt. In November 2020, Alexandria suffered from widespread flooding, closing schools and universities. Photo: Mohammed Hassan.
Guayaquil, Ecuador. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Guayaquil ranks 4th among coastal cities most at risk from rising sea levels. Photo: Maarten van den Heuvel.
Hong Kong, China. Made up of over 250 islands, Hong Kong has seen steady sea level rise of 2.9mm per year since the 1950s. Photo: Samuel Wong.
Miami, USA. Scientists say 2m of sea level rise by 2100 is likely. This will make large parts of the city uninhabitable, displacing 300,000 people. Photo Jing Xi Lau.
Hanoi, Vietnam. If sea temperatures increase by 3°C, an estimated 5.6 million residents could be at risk from rising seas. Photo: Karl JK Hedin.
Can Tho, Vietnam. In 2020 Vietnam has seen flooding across the country, causing over $1.5 billion in damages. Photo: Falco Negenman.
Chennai, India. It is estimated 31 million people across India are at risk of annual flooding. With rising seas, that number is expected to increase to over 50 million. Photo: Steve Rykba.
Dakar, Senegal. The city was hit by flooding in 2020 with at least 4 people dead, and large parts of the country suffering from heavy rain. Photo: Demba Joob.
New York, USA. A coastal resilience survey projects 37% of lower Manhattan to be at risk of storm surges by 2050. Photo: Kevin Chinchilla.
Surabaya, Indonesia. Large parts of Indonesia’s second-largest city sit just 0-3m above sea level, increasing the risk of coastal flooding. Photo: Kevin Yudhistira.
Narayanganj, Bangladesh. Nearly a quarter of Bangladesh was affected by flooding in 2020, with Narayanganj among the worst-hit areas. Photo: Hasib Matiur.
Tokyo, Japan. Typhoons and heavy rains are posing an ever-increasing risk to Japan’s capital and its 9 million residents. Photo: Finan Akbar.
Kolkata, India. Built on the Ganges Delta, observers say Kolkata is unprepared for ‘inevitable’ sea level rise. Photo: Subhankar Gupta.
Dhaka, Bangladesh. 28% of Bangladeshis live on the coast – making climate migration a real and present danger. Photo: Hasib Matiur.