A 2017 U.S National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report predicted that mean global sea level rise will be between 0.3 to 2.5 meters during the 21st century, with scientists increasingly thinking they will rise 1 meter by 2100.
However, even if you take the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) lower estimate from its 2014 report (PDF), that they increase by 0.4 meters by the end of the 21st century, it would be enough to put 11 percent of the Bangladesh’s coastal land underwater, creating 7-10 million climate refugees. And a sea level rise of just 0.2 meters could make 740,000 people in Nigeria homeless.
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Coastal areas and low lying islands will be particularly affected too. One study predicted that, by 2060, 1.4 billion people will be living in low-lying coastal regions at risk from sea level rise.
Contribute to this article by adding places predicted to be severely affected by rising sea levels, along with forecast effects.
Places most likely to be affected by sea level rise
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Bangladesh – A sea level rise of one meter would submerge a fifth of the country and turn 15 million (Environmental Justice Foundation) to 30 million people (Climate Change News; Climate Central) into climate migrants. By 2050 as many as 25 million people will be affected by the rising sea levels (UNEP).
“With a two degree rise in temperature, 64 million people in China, based on the 2010 population, would be living in areas submerged by rising seas. However, with a four degree rise this jumps to 145 million people” (World Economic Forum – comes from Climate Central PDF).
- Shanghai – 17.5 million people could be displaced by rising waters if global temperatures increase by 3C, according to to Climate Central projections (The Guardian – *better source desirable*)
- Nile area – If sea levels rise by 0.5 meters, eight million people would be displaced in Alexandria and the Nile Delta, without flood protection (IPCC)
- A 20 to 50cm increase in sea levels would threaten 3.5% of the country’s landmass and 2% of its GDP
- UNESCO World Herititage sites such as Olympia and Bassae are in “imminent danger”. (diaNEOsis)
- Venice, Padano, Versilia, Fondi and Pontina plains, the coastline between Ancona and Pescara, the coasts near Rome and Naples and Gulf of Manfredonia, coasts between Taranto and Brindisi, eastern- southern Sicily (Journal of Maps – *better source desirable’*)
Japan – Sea-level rise of one meter could put “another 4.1 million people at risk of flooding.” (Union of Concerned Scientists)
- Osaka – Coastal flooding could mean nearly $1tn of Osaka’s assets are at risk by the 2070s, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.
- Tokyo – 2.5 million will be at risk of coastal flooding by the 2070s (OECD).
In northern Sweden, land rise compensates for most of the sea rise, however the southern parts of Sweden (roughly from Stockholm and below) will be affected by up to 1 m of sea-rise, with local variations, according to SMHI in the report Future Sea-Levels in Sweden (Framtida havsnivåer i Sverige).
Several parts of southern Sweden will be affected with between 0.5 to 1 m in average sea level rise, including Oskarshamn, Skanör, Barsebäck, Viken and Ringhals.
South Pacific Ocean
Island Atoll Nations
An academic study modeling the impact of ocean level rises on a single island in Kwajelain Atoll in the Marshall Islands found that the island could become uninhabitable by the mid-21st century. The researchers believe their results are broadly applicable to other atolls: “The approach and findings presented in this study can serve as a proxy for atolls around the world, most of which have a similar morphology and structure (including, on average, even lower land elevations) and are the home for numerous island nations and hundreds of thousands of people.”
- Marshall Islands – When local sea level around the island reaches one metre higher than present, at least half of the island will flood annually (academic study).
- Tuvalu – A sea level rise of 20–40 centimetres (8–16 inches) in the next 100 years could make Tuvalu uninhabitable.
- Florida – In 12,000 B.C., the modern state of Florida was more than twice the size it is today (State Library & Archives of Florida). Over time, the sea level there has been steadily rising, forcing inhabitants of Florida to move inland. This same type of population shift may continue in Florida and around the world as the sea level rises.
- Galveston, Texas – Two meter sea level rise would submerge more than 85 percent of the island Galveston resides on (Academic GIS study by University of Texas)
- Hawaii – “Sea level rise will require upgrades to the drinking and wastewater infrastructures — at a cost that exceeds $1.9 billion over the next 20 years” (academic study).
- Louisiana’s Isle de Jean Charles
- Miami – In Miami-Dade county alone, almost $15bn of coastal property is at risk of flooding in just the next 15 years (WRI).
- New York – All of the city’s four airports are at risk of flooding (academic study).
- San Francisco Bay Area – To protect the area from a one meter sea level rise an initial investment of $1.52 billion, plus $152 million annually, will be required. The probability of a major flood event there within the next 50 years is predicted to increase to 40 percent (academic study).
- Washington – “A two-foot rise (0.6 meters) in sea level would inundate approximately 56 square miles in Washington, affecting more than 44,000 people” (academic study).
- Southern tip