Seven Sinking Cities Around the World Seven Sinking Cities Around the World

Seven Sinking Cities Around the World

by Rodrigo Mejia

June 23, 2013

The world watched as Hurricane Sandy hurled an 11-foot storm surge into New York City, covering much of it in flood waters and shutting down utility services as a bitter autumn set in. The region-wide storm wound up as the second-costliest hurricane in U.S. history, resulting in ruined infrastructure, damaged homes, and 159 deaths.

The costliest hurricane was Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which accounted for $148 billion in total damages/costs while displacing 600,000 families and leaving 1,833 dead.

Indonesia's capital city of Jakarta, with its population of 10 million-plus, is rapidly sinking into the Java Sea—a result of both climate change and a hallowing groundwater supply.

Some places learn to lean with the punches of climate change. Bangladesh, with a population of over 150 million, sees more that a quarter of its land mass inundated by rainfall every year. 

Positioned at the mouth of the Yangtze River where it meets the East China Sea, Shanghai is one the world's more prominent shipping ports and centers of trade. But it's also in risk of losing ground to the rising sea, which threatens both its vital infrastructure and its main source of fresh water, the Qingcaosha Reservoir.

A series of atolls in the Indian Ocean, the island nation is one of the world's lowest-lying regions, averaging just over four feet above sea level. Modest projections put the rise of global sea levels at two to five feet over the next century, with some areas more affected than others. While some coastal cities are prepping for more extreme estimations, Maldives is preparing for the inevitable: it will fall under the waves.

Those who can afford to do so are taking preemptive measures to combat a changing climate, none more novel than in the San Francisco Bay area. A recent report issued by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) found that of 12 marshlands surveyed using computer models that reflect updated sea level projections, 95 percent of the area they cover will be inundated by end-of-the-century high tides.

Fearing similar sea intrusion in the coming years, San Francisco has outlined its master plan to move the Pacific-straddling Great Highway along Ocean Beach away from the coast. The $350 million dollar plan calls for a redirection of traffic as the city allows "the surf to reclaim its turf." "We can't close our eyes to what's coming and it's definitely going to get worse and not better," said Benjamin Grant, manager at the Ocean Beach Master Plan for the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR). 

Statewide, the California State Senate recently passed the "Leno Bill." Named for Senator Mark Leno, who represents the San Francisco area, Senate Bill 461 authorizes $40 billion from Tidelands Oil revenue to be put towards coastal protection. It states that if sea levels were to rise four feet by end of the century, more than 480,000 Californians and $25 million in aquaculture would be at risk.

Photo via (cc) Flickr User dbaron

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Seven Sinking Cities Around the World