The recent UN summit on climate change has once again made the world realize that it is sitting on a global warming time bomb. This bomb is expected to explode in another 30-50 years striking many cities that will be drowned by global warming. These cities most vulnerable to sea level rise are some of the most populous and rich cities.
Given below is this sinking cities list that includes regions of both developed and developing countries.
Top 10 Cities Most Affected by Global Warming
Countries most affected by climate change related to coastal flooding are China, India, USA and Japan. Here are the most affected cities of these countries.
Mumbai is not only one of the most populous cities in India but it is also the financial capital of the country. Damage to the city will not only displace millions of people but will also weaken the country financially.
Studies have shown that by the year 2050 flooding could become an annual phenomenon in Mumbai and its suburbs. It is estimated that by the year 2100 Mumbai can become one of cities that will be underwater fully.
Looking at the recent patterns of rainfall activity in the city which deluge the city in a matter of few days only, this forecast does not seem wrong.
Guangzhou is not only one of the major port cities in China but it is also one of the wealthiest and heavily populated regions. Its prime location that helped boost trade in the area is now a cause of concern for its residents.
Urbanization in the region has led to temperature changes making the area warmer than what it was 10 years back. According to some reports the temperature in some parts of Guangzhou region has risen by 0.4 degree Celsius!
The sea level is already rising by 4 mm per year and any further rise can wash out the low lying areas of Guangzhou completely.
Shanghai is one of the most vulnerable cities to be affected by global warming and rising sea levels. Not only is Shanghai a port city but it is also surrounded by rivers, canals and other water ways making it prone to flooding.
The government of China has also recognized this danger and has started building sea walls and better drainage systems. Hopefully, these measures do not turn out to be too little or too late.
No one knows for sure whether the defence mechanisms like sea walls or good drainage systems will work in the event of sudden flooding. An example is the Tsunami and earthquake that hit Japan in 2011. 30 feet sea walls or other such structures became ineffective in face of the devastating Tsunami that caused heavy damages and was responsible for a nuclear accident too.
If the forecasters are to be believed then Miami in the USA has a lot lose in the next 50 years.
Ranking 6th in “most densely populated cities of USA” list, Miami is also the third richest city in the United States. Coastal flooding will not only affect around 3 million people but it will also lead to heavy financial losses amounting to billions of dollars.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam would be severely affected by any tidal flooding mainly due to two reasons. Firstly, the city is at very low elevation. Most of the city is just 1 meter above sea level. It is reported that the slightest increase in sea level will drown more than 60% of the area.
Secondly, the city has clogged sewers that will hamper the drainage process in case of any floods.
According to scientists even if pollution control measures are put in force today, certain amount of irreversible damage is already done. They term it as locked in warming, which means that sea level is bound to rise by some percent due to the pollutants already present in the atmosphere today.
Kolkata has been experiencing extreme heat waves, severe and frequent storms lately. A recent report by the Intergovernmental panel for climate change of the UN has indicated that a 2 degree Celsius rise in global temperature would cause Kolkata to sink.
One of reasons that make Kolkata prone to coastal flooding is the weakening of the city’s natural defense mechanism due to high rate of urbanization.
Greater New York, USA
Flooding can severely damage the expensive infrastructure of New York City. Seaports, airports, tunnels, bridges can all go underwater by 2050 if the global temperature rises by just a couple of degrees.
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Osaka has already been a witness to widespread destruction that a Tsunami can cause. People in Osaka are aware of the dangers that their city is facing in case of rising seas. With trillions of dollars at stake the government is investing in both protecting the city and raising public awareness.
Located in the Nile Delta, Alexandria city founded by Alexander the Great is in in the danger of drowning due to global warming. Studies show that the sea level around Alexandria has been rising at the rate of 3.2 mm per year for the past few years. The beaches are already wearing away.
It is predicted that more than a thousand square miles of the Nile Delta will vanish by 2100.
New Orleans, USA
Situated in the Mississippi delta, half of New Orleans is at par or below sea level making it vulnerable to the risks associated with climate change. It is predicted that by the end of this century, salt marshes in the area may be reduced to just 30% due to rising sea levels. This would make the city devoid of the only natural protection it has against flooding.
In order to stop global warming, the amount of carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere needs to be reduced. It can be done by using renewable sources of energy like wind and solar, reducing water wastage, using energy efficient appliances and fuel efficient vehicles.
Areas Most Vulnerable to Climate Change
The above was a list of cities already affected by rising sea levels. Other than these cities, other habitable land that will be underwater because of coastal flooding are Amsterdam, Karachi, Rio de Janerio, Haiti, Lagos and hundreds more.
Man-made defenses can only help a little to fight against floods. Till the root cause of climate change is not dealt by each nation and every individual, the threat of global warming will remain for all.