James Hansen once said, “Global warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening.” Many of us are still thinking of climate change and global warming as something supposed to happen in the future. Unfortunately, very few of us are aware that it is taking place.

The increasing sea levels and sinking of various coastal cities are some of the evidence of global warming. Here we will be learning about such cities that are predicted to sink and disappear within 100 years if necessary precautions are not taken now.

While many of us are ignoring environmental issues, climate change is already giving us warning signs. And these warning signs are hard to ignore, especially in the coastal regions of the world.

Worldwide water level is estimated to have risen by nearly 8-9 inches since 1880, and by the end of the twenty-first century, it will have been increased by afoot. Five hundred seventy low-lying coastal towns are expected to sink 0.5 meters by 2050, according to C40 CITIES.

It means that over 800 million people living in coastal cities are vulnerable to the threat of rising water levels and coastal flooding. Here is the list of ten cities that are said to sink and disappear within 100 years.

Table of Contents

1. Miami, Florida, United States

Downtown Miami Flooding
Flooded Street of Miami (source)

In the southeast part of Florida in the United States lies Miami. The city’s water level is continually increasing at an alarming rate, putting it in danger of sinking. It is said that the city is preparing for a rise of 5 to 6 feet by the year 2100.

As of now, Miami constantly possesses the threat of floods, hurricanes, and contaminated drinking water. Also, as Miami is highly populated and urbanized, it is more vulnerable to this rising water level. According to a report by Union Concerned Scientist, almost 6.4 billion worth of infrastructure and 12,000 residential areas are under the threat of disappearing with 30 years.

2. Bangkok, Thailand

Flooded areas of Bangkok
A flooded area of Bangkok (source)

Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, serves as a gateway to the country’s northern and southern regions. The city is built on ground that was formerly swampy and is just 5 meters above sea level. According to a World Bank estimate, 40% of Bangkok would be flooded by 2030 due to severe rainfall and flooding.

Moreover, according to a World Bank estimate, 40% of Bangkok would be inundated by 2030 due to heavy rain and flooding. Furthermore, climate change is expected to severely impact the city, followed by regular floods, food insecurity, and infrastructure damage.

To mitigate the severe effects of climate change and reduce floods, Bangkok created Chulalongkorn University Centenary Park, which holds 1 million gallons of rainwater.

3. Dhaka, Bangladesh

Flood in Dhaka
Flood in Dhaka (Wikipedia)

Located in the central part, Dhaka is the capital city of Bangladesh. According to a 2015 article, the city is one of the most vulnerable cities to sinking. Despite its high population, the town generates extremely few GHGs on a worldwide scale.

Considering this, Dhaka is in great danger of sinking because of extreme climatic circumstances such as flooding and cyclones. Not only that, but the inhabitants of Dhaka also suffer from low agricultural yields due to waterlogging and soil degradation.

4. Venice, Italy

Located in the northeast part of Italy, Venice is one of the renowned cities of the world. The town consists of 118 small islands separated by canals and connected by around 400 bridges. According to Insider, the city is sinking at a pace of 0.08 inches each year due to climate change.

In 2019, the city had a series of high tides, resulting in severe flooding. Furthermore, the natural barriers that defend the cities erode with time, exposing Venice to even greater danger. Venice is constructing a wall to prevent this danger, which is expected to be finished by 2022.

5. Jakarta, Indonesia

Flooded Residential area in Jakarta
Flooded Residential area in Jakarta (source)

Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, is located on the northwest corner of Java Island, bordering the Java Sea. According to BBC, the city is sinking 6.7 inches every year due to the adverse effects of climate change.

Jakarta is facing both rising water levels and subsidence at the same time. Because of this, the city’s vulnerability is even higher than any other coastal city. In 2017, Jakarta was already 40% submerged into the sea. So, if the misuse of aquifers continues and the global emission is not reduced, it won’t even take 100 years for the cities like Jarkata to disappear.

6. Lagos, Nigeria

Flooded road of Lagos
Flooded road of Lagos (source)

Lagos, the second-largest city in Africa, is situated in the southwest part of Nigeria. According to a study in 2012, the city is vulnerable to only 1-3 meters rise in sea level. Currently, the citizens of Lagos are facing erosion of land areas, waterlogging, and flooding due to rising sea levels.

The city is sinking little by little, and the dense population and increasing infrastructure worsen the situation.

7. Alexandria, Egypt

Alexandria is the third-largest city of Egypt, and it is located in the Nile delta area on the southeast coast of the Mediterranean. As per NPR, the sea levels are expected to rise by 2 feet by 2100.

Consequently, the beaches are slowly disappearing, and the sea is getting closer to the nearby residential areas. This rising water level has exposed the citizens to flooding, but growing crops has also been a big deal as the salty water is not suited for crops.

Other problems like salinity of water, soil erosion, destruction of properties are also common in the coastal areas. Lately, scientists believe that by 2100 around 2500 square kilometers of Alexandra city will sink underwater.

8. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Flooded Area of Amsterdam
Flooded Area of Amsterdam

Located in the west, Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands. The sea level around the city is believed to rise by 2.5 feet as per Sea Grant. In contrast to the other coastal cities, Amsterdam is already situated below sea level.

As a result, the city is even more vulnerable to the adverse effect of rising water levels. As a precaution, Amsterdam has put several mitigation measures, such as building flood barriers, improved flood-resistant infrastructure, and flood-prone parkland.

However, even if all these precautions are applied, they are considered a temporary solution that will only postpone the sinking of the capital city.

9. New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Massive flooding in sections of New Orleans
Massive flooding in sections of New Orleans (source)

Located in the southeast part of Louisiana state near the bank of the Mississippi River, is a city called New Orleans. Various areas of the town are disappearing at the rate of 2 inches every year, reported a study by NASA.

New Orleans is said to be quite late in planning the mitigation strategies for the sinking. The continuous extraction of groundwater has made the city more vulnerable and constantly faces the threat of flooding.

In addition, some areas of the towns are even considered to be 15 feet below sea level. If some drastic measures are not applied to minimize the effect of climate change, it won’t even take 100 years for the city to sink and disappear.

10. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Flooded Ho Chi Minh
Flooded Ho Chi Minh (source)

Ho Chi Minh city is located towards the south of Vietnam. Like the cities mentioned earlier, Ho Chi Minh city is also highly vulnerable to disappearing by sinking.

According to Vietnam Insider, Ho Chi Minh city has fallen by about 1.3 feet already and is declining continuously at the rate of 0.2-0.4 inches per year.

The unidentified and uncontrolled exploitation of aquifers and groundwater for various purposes is making the vulnerability even worse. Furthermore, the increasing population and urbanization have led the city to sink by half a meter over the last 25 years. Again, according to research, Ho Chi Minh City is one of the top five fastest sinking cities in the world.

11. Chennai, India

Submerged bridges in Chennai
Submerged bridges in Chennai. (source)

Tamil Nadu’s capital city, Chennai, lies in south-eastern India. According to a study by NASA, the city will sink by 21.6 inches in the next 100 years.

Chennai is well-known for its cultural and aesthetic characteristics, but it is also possible that this lovely city could vanish due to increasing sea levels. As India’s fourth most populated city, the increasing population and urbanization pose more threats.

12. Manila, Philippines

flooded area in Manila
Commuters walk at the flooded area in Manila (source)

Located in the western part of Manila Bay in the Philippines, Maila is the capital city. As per a study, the city is sinking at the rate of 0.5 inches every year. Moreover, almost 87% of the metropolis is threatened to descend in the next ten years.

How To Protect Coastal Cities From Sinking?

Apart from the cities mentioned above, other coastal cities like Mumbai, Houston, Shanghai, and many more are in grave danger of sinking due to catastrophic climate change events. While many of you may wonder if this is preventable, we must admit that though the circumstances of climate change are unavoidable, we can apply some measures to minimize the threat to the sinking cities.

Now, below are mentioned some of the mitigation measures to prevent the coastal cities from disappearing;

  • Know Your City’s Vulnerability: Understanding how susceptible you and your city will enable you to take the required measures and remain safe.
  • Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emission: Since greenhouse gases are the primary cause of climate change, we must be aware of our carbon footprints and implement strategies to minimize GHG emissions.
  • Avoid Deforestation and Plant More: Trees aids in landslide mitigation as they absorb precipitation and retains the soil surface. Also, trees play an essential role in balancing our environment by absorbing carbon emissions.
  • Use energy efficiently: Turn off your air conditioner and electric appliances and consider switching to more energy-efficient choices when not in use. Being conscious and reducing your energy use can benefit the environment while mitigating the negative consequences of climate change.
  • Build Sea Walls, Surge Barriers, and Flood Resistant Buildings: It is difficult to stop the rising water level now. Some coastal cities build tall walls and barriers around the water resources to avoid flooding in the residential areas. Moreover, buildings can be designed so that they remain unaffected by the rising water level.
  • Encourage Land Recovery and Restoration: While many land areas in the coastal cities have lost their fertility due to waterlogging and chemical leaching, we can apply various strategies to recover and restore such land areas. For life to continue, the global concern should also go towards managing the unaffected land area.

Final Words

Globally water levels are expected to rise 6.6 feet by the end of this century, reported CNN. Around 570 low-lying coastal cities with more than 800 million people worldwide are vulnerable to the impacts of rising water levels.

As climate change progresses, the adverse effects of rising water levels are becoming more prevalent. In recent years, severe weather phenomena such as flash floods, cyclones, and hurricanes have become more extensive. As a result, coastal cities are likely to disappear via sinking in the near future.

Furthermore, increasing salinity, waterlogging, and regular floods have disturbed the lives of millions of people who reside in these areas, rendering them unfit for human life. The scarier part is that even if we strive to minimize these consequences now, we may be too late, and some of the impacts will be irreversible.

However, other studies show that if we drastically reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years, we may have some time to avert the worst-case scenario.

(Last Updated on March 22, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Akriti Jha holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environment Science from Tribhuvan University. Akriti is an Environment enthusiast with a passion for writing and reading. She feels responsible towards the environment and has been actively advocating for Zero Waste at Schools campaigns under Clean Up Nepal, a non-profit organization. As much as she loves to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle, she equally enjoys encouraging people around her to be environmentally conscious of their activities.