Ground Report | New Delhi: 10 cities most affected by rising sea levels; Climate change has numerous consequences on the daily lives of many people, but few are as palpable as rising sea levels. Many coastal communities around the world already live with the permanent threat of floods, which, driven by the melting of glaciers and polar ice caps, drown entire neighborhoods, putting people’s lives at risk and causing economic havoc. And what is worse, if the world does not meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement and limits the increase in the global average temperature to 1.5 ° C by 2050, many of the cities of the planet will see this extraordinary threat multiplied.
In just three decades, more than 570 coastal cities will face a projected rise in sea level of at least 0.5 meters, putting more than 800 million people at risk, according to data collected by the C40, which brings together a network of cities in the world committed to ecological transition. Especially since, as that water level rises, the storms will become increasingly virulent. In fact, the increase in extreme weather events such as hurricanes or cyclones is a reality that breaks records every year and has a significant social and economic impact.
According to the UCCRN, a research network that brings together climate scientists from around the world, the economic costs to cities from rising sea levels and flooding could reach a trillion dollars each year by mid-century, the equivalent to the annual Spanish GDP. An estimate that they also estimate conservative, since, for example, Hurricane Sandy in 2012 alone damaged 90,000 buildings in New York, causing 19,000 million dollars in repairs.
10 cities most affected
1. Calcutta (India)
Calcutta, one of the most emblematic cities of India, and its capital during the British colonial period is one of the cultural centers of the region, the third-largest city in the country in population, and a fundamental religious enclave. Much of its history and character is due to its location in the Ganges delta, at an elevation of 0.5 to 9 meters above sea level, which is however also a curse. Periodic floods and cyclones threaten its more than 14 million inhabitants and could endanger the very existence of the city if climate change is not stopped.
2. Bombay (India)
Mumbai is the most populous city in India and the seventh in the world , with a population of approximately 25 million inhabitants adding to the urban agglomeration that surrounds it. It is also the richest town in the country, thanks largely to its deep natural port that makes it a key point in the world trade network. Mind you, its foundations sit on a narrow strip of land that rises from the marshy coast of western India and into the sea, making it extremely vulnerable to rising ocean levels.
3. Dhaka (Bangladesh)
Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh and together with its metropolitan area has a population of more than 20 million inhabitants. Located on the banks of the Buriganga River, Dhaka suffers from the same problem as the rest of the territory of Bangladesh, one of the poorest nations in the world and also one of the most affected by the consequences of climate change. And the whole country is completely at sea level, which makes Dhaka susceptible to floods, especially during monsoon seasons, which usually bring heavy rains and cyclones. (10 cities most affected)
4. Canton / Guangzhou (China)
Canton, also called Guangzhou, is a city in the south of the People’s Republic of China, with a population of more than 13 million inhabitants in the entire metropolitan area. Historically it has been one of the most important ports in Asia, a function it continues to fulfill today thanks to its proximity to Hong Kong, which it serves as a link with the mainland. Of course, the city is located just south of the Tropic of Cancer, an area with a humid subtropical climate in which monsoon rains and cyclones are also frequent. Given its economic importance, floods could cost more than 3.2 trillion in damage in two decades.
5. Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam)
Although everyone knows it by its old name, Saigon , Ho Chi Minh City lost its status as capital decades ago but continues to be the most populated city in Vietnam, since together with its metropolitan city it has more than 14 million inhabitants. Although it is located several kilometers from the sea, its location west of the mouth of the Saigon River and north of the Mekong River delta, in addition to its low altitude, make it a city especially vulnerable to rising sea levels. Above all, because it already suffers regular floods in the rainy season, which runs from May to November and usually involves major cyclones in the area.
6. Shanghai (China)
The historic city of Shanghai is the most populous city in China and one of the largest in the world , with more than 24 million inhabitants. Like Canton, its strategic location as a commercial exchange point is one of the main reasons for its impressive size and it is currently the largest port in the world by volume of merchandise. In fact, Shanghai lies in the delta of the Yangtze River, where it sits on an alluvial plain, so most of its 6,218 km² is flat terrain of just 4 meters of average elevation above sea level, which we speak of A city that will be increasingly vulnerable to the frequent typhoons that plague the area.
7. Bangkok (Thailand)
Bangkok is the capital and the most populous city in Thailand, with about 8.5 million inhabitants. In the last two centuries, it has grown to become the political, social, and economic center of the country, expanding its strength towards Indochina and Southeast Asia and becoming the city most visited by foreign tourists since 2016. But Bangkok is also within about two meters above sea level, which causes problems for the protection of the city against floods during the monsoon season. In addition, various scientific reports have pointed out that the city sinks an average of two centimeters a year as it is completely settled in a swamp, which will hinder its survival as climate change worsens. (10 cities most affected)
8. Yangon (Myanmar)
Rangoon, the Spanish name for Yangon (official name according to the Burmese authorities), is the largest city in Myanmar or Burma and was the capital of the country until 2005, the year it was replaced by Naipyidó. Its population of over five million people is located on the banks of the Yangon River, near the Gulf of Martaban. However, as is the case in Bangladesh, much of the Burmese territory is a few meters above sea level, which together with the fact that it is geographically a cyclone area, puts the future survival of the city at risk. In fact, as early as 2008, Cyclone Nargis it killed at least 140,000 people and caused the forced displacement of another 800,000, chilling figures that could become recurring in the not too distant future.
9. Miami (United States) (10 cities most affected)
The first and only city in this top 10 that is located outside the Asian continent, Miami is a city located in the southeast of Florida (United States) whose metropolitan area encompasses more than 5.4 million inhabitants. However, due to its location between two water masses known for their important tropical activity (the Atlantic and the Caribbean), Miami is one of the cities that, statistically, runs the highest risk of being devastated by a hurricane. In fact, according to the OECD classification, it is the place where the most economic assets are at risk: almost 3.5 trillion a year by 2050 , according to their calculations.
10. Hai Phong (Vietnam)
Perhaps the least known city on this list, Hai Phòng is nevertheless considered a key city in international trade since it is home to the main port of Vietnam. Although its population barely reaches two million, its strategic location on the Red River delta on the coast of the Gulf of Tonkin makes it a hub for numerous transactions.
However, that same situation can be its curse, since it is exposed to the influence of the monsoon and the cyclones that it carries, something that as sea level rises could make this city uninhabitable.