Global warming can be difficult to properly visualise. If you’re not directly threatened by rising sea levels, suffering water shortages or ravaged by wildfires, how do you know it’s really happening? It can all seem a little abstract.
That’s why projects like Climate Central are so essential. This website creates maps that show which parts of the world could find themselves underwater due to rising sea levels. So as the planet keeps getting warmer – and pollution continues unabated – which cities around the globe could find themselves underwater as early as 2030? To find out, we looked at Climate Central’s latest maps, which are based on the IPCC’s 2021 report – in other words, some of the most reliable climate-change data out there.
Of course, there are plenty of variables at play, but what we’re looking at here is what might happen if pollution continues on its current trajectory. These maps show future sea levels (in red), but don’t show what could happen during flooding or other extreme weather events.
A lot can change between now and 2030. We could build flood defences, adapt our cities and – ideally, if the COP26 talks go to plan – take dramatic action to halt global warming. But if none of that happens, here are the potential consequences: nine cities that could find themselves entirely (or in large part) underwater within a decade.