How will sea level rises affect you?

A screen grab from the New York Times' interactive graphic showing the countries most at risk from see level rises.
New York Times/Climate Central

The New York Times and Climate Central have combined forces to create an interactive info graphic showing the countries most at risk from rising sea levels and found 80% of them to be in Asia. You can get the full interactive experience here.

In time for the Climate Summit at the UN, The New York Times and Climate Central have published research on the likely impact of rising sea water levels on coastal-dwelling humans.

Their conclusion: “if global carbon emissions continue on current trends and sea levels are affected by climate change about as much as expected about 2.6 per cent of the global population (about 177 million people) will be living in a place at risk of regular flooding” by 2100.

But Climate Central, an independent US group of scientists and journalists researching and reporting on climate change, warns these figures “may be two to three times too low, meaning as many as 650 million people may be threatened”.

The analysis is based on newly available sea-level data. It shows:

• Eight of the 10 large countries most at risk are in Asia (China, Vietnam, Japan, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Thailand, with the Philippines ninth).
• Of these, the largest group is in China (4% of population or 50 million people exposed).
• More than a quarter of Vietnam’s residents are likely to experience regular floods by the end of the century.
• The most affected country in the world will be The Netherlands, where 47% of the population will be living “below sea or regular flood levels by the end of the century”. But the Dutch also have the world’s most advanced levee system, which means the actual risk is lower.

The analysis points out that the largest carbon emitting countries are not necessarily the ones most at risk from predicted sea-level rises caused by melting snow and ice. The United States, for example, historically the world’s largest carbon emitter, is number 34 on the list of flood exposure with 3.1million people at risk. The US ranks between India and Madagascar.

Australia, one of the highest per-capita carbon emitting nations, escapes relatively lightly, with 383,000 people estimated to be at risk of flooding.

China is the world’s leading emitter and also the nation where the greatest number of people will be exposed to flood risk.

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