20 Cities Most At Risk From Rising Sea Levels

Just last week, EarthTechling reported on New York City’s new plan to combat climate change. Still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, the City is determined to use smart infrastructure and resilient building design to protect the boroughs from widespread flooding and power outages that wreaked havoc after the 2012 superstorm.

New York’s tragedy was an eye-opener for the rest of the world. Many forget that it’s a coastal city, and like thousands of other coastal cities throughout the world, it’s severely susceptible to rising sea levels. As the effects of climate change continue to worsen, researchers have just figured out which cities across the globe face the highest risk from coastal flooding. Meet us after the jump to see a list of the 20 most-vulnerable places.

urban flooding

Image via USGS

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Southampton used predictive computer modeling to assess current and future flood risk in cities around the world. What they found was astounding: “Even if adaptation investments maintain constant flood probability, subsidence and sea-level rise will increase global flood losses to US$60–63 billion per year in 2050.”

Somewhat ironically, North America and Asia, home to some of the world’s biggest polluters, have more cities at risk than any other continents.

The top 20 most vulnerable cities:

1. Guangzhou, China

2. Mumbai, India

3. Kolkata, India

4. Guayaquil, Ecuador

5. Shenzen, China

6. Miami, Fla.

7. Tianjin, China

8. New York, N.Y.—Newark, N.J.

9. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

10. New Orleans, La.

11. Jakarta, Indonesia

12. Abidjan, Ivory Coast

13. Chennai, India

14. Surat, India

15. Zhanjiang, China

16. Tampa—St. Petersburg, Fla.

17. Boston, Mass.

18. Bangkok, Thailand

19. Xiamen, China

20. Nagoya, Japan

“To maintain present flood risk, adaptation will need to reduce flood probabilities below present values,” state the study’s authors. “In this case, the magnitude of losses when floods do occur would increase, often by more than 50%, making it critical to also prepare for larger disasters than we experience today.”

More the study’s methodology available from Live Science.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog


  • Reply August 20, 2013


    Excuse me. Where exactly is “Zhanjiang, India”?

    • Reply August 20, 2013

      Ron Miller

      I got a laugh out of that as well 🙂

    • Reply August 21, 2013


      Good catch both of you! Just a typo. The correct city (as you probably guessed) is Zhanjiang, China. Now corrected.

  • Reply August 22, 2013

    Kevin Kavanaugh

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