Surging Seas Sea level rise analysis by Climate Central

New Report and Maps: Rising Seas Threaten Land Home to Half a Billion

November 8, 2015

By Climate Central

Carbon emissions causing 4°C of warming  what business-as-usual points toward today - could lock in enough sea level rise to submerge land currently home to 470 to 760 million people, with unstoppable rise unfolding over centuries. At the same time, aggressive carbon cuts limiting warming to 2°C could bring the number as low as 130 million people. These are the stakes for global climate talks December in Paris.

Our analysis details the implications of different warming scenarios for every coastal nation and megacity on the planet, and our globally searchable Mapping Choices tool maps them. We are also publishing Google Earth fly-over videos and KML contrasting these different futures for important cities around the world, and printable high-resolution photorealistic images of select global landmarks. We have made these visualizations embeddable and downloadable. These are the stakes for global climate talks, in pictures.




See all fly-overs or get KML file for exploring or video-making >>

Some of our major findings include:

  • China, the world’s leading carbon emitter, leads the world, too, in coastal risk, with 145 million people living on land ultimately threatened by rising seas if emission levels are not reduced.
  • China has the most to gain from limiting warming to ​2°C, which would cut the total to 64 million.
  • Twelve other nations each have more than 10 million people living on land at risk, led by India, Bangladesh, Viet Nam, Indonesia, and Japan.
  • The U.S. is the most threatened nation outside of Asia, with roughly 25 million people on implicated land.
  • Meeting the 2°C​ goal would cut exposure by more than half in the U.S., China, and India, the world’s top three carbon emitters, as well as in many other nations.
  • ​Global megacities with the top-10 largest threatened populations include Shanghai, Hong Kong, Calcutta, Mumbai, Dhaka, Jakarta, and Hanoi.

Explore the full interactive map >>

See all images or get high-resolution versions for printing >>

For broadcast journalists: see video interview clips of Dr. Benjamin Strauss