In the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate, other governments and even U.S. states have affirmed their commitment to reducing carbon emissions. Unfortunately, the sea level is still rising — it’s just a matter of how much.
Global warming causes the sea level to rise as ice caps melt and water expands as it heats up. Sea level rise obviously poses all sorts of problems for cities, from washing away beaches to contaminating drinking water.
The nonprofit Climate Central projected out what would happen to the world’s largest cities if global temperatures continue rising at historical rates, leading to an increase of 4 degrees Celsius by 2100.
It’s difficult to say exactly how much it might rise on a local level due to a variety of factors like coastal defenses, but the report looked at current land elevation in urban areas with more than 10 million people, and estimated how much of the land mass will be below sea level. The report concluded what percentage of the city’s population is therefore considered “at risk.” Or to put it less delicately, these figures represent how much of the city could eventually be underwater.
This is a pessimistic scenario, since climate scientists hope that carbon emissions will still be reduced regardless of U.S. participation in the global climate pact. But even the Paris Agreement’s emissions targets would not prevent a 2 degree increase in global temperatures.
Here are the 10 largest cities with the highest numbers of people affected by the sea level rise, according to the report.