Mumbai is in the
news every monsoon when India’s financial capital sinks up to its nose. The
city’s resilience and the capability of bouncing back has been lauded. But this
may not last long.
A new study has
shown that vast swaths of land in Mumbai would go under water due to rising
seas by 2050. Mumbai is not just the only city that would be swallowed by
rising seas which could affect three times more people by 2050 than previously
The new projections
suggest that much of Mumbai, India’s financial power horse and one of the
largest cities in the world, is at risk of being wiped out. Built on what was
once a series of islands, the city’s historic downtown core is particularly
vulnerable, according to the research.
is the hub of India’s financial power. And the area is thickly populated too.
The research was
produced by Climate Central, a science organisation based in New Jersey, and
published in the journal Nature Communications. The projections don’t account
for future population growth or land lost to coastal erosion.
Rising seas is
the new threat that is poised to erase some of the world’s great coastal
The authors of a
paper published Tuesday developed a more accurate way of calculating land
elevation based on satellite readings, a standard way of estimating the effects
of sea level rise over large areas. The team found that the previous numbers
were far too optimistic. The new research shows that some 150 million people
are now living on land that will be below the high-tide line by mid-century.
elevation measurements using satellites struggle to differentiate the true
ground level from the tops of trees or buildings, said Scott A. Kulp, a
researcher at Climate Central and one of the paper’s authors. So he and
Benjamin Strauss, Climate Central’s chief executive, used artificial
intelligence to determine the error rate and correct for it.
The study shows
that Southern Vietnam could all but disappear. More than 20 million people in
Vietnam, almost one-quarter of the population, live on land that will be
Much of Ho Chi
Minh City, the nation’s economic centre, would disappear with it,
more than 10 percent of citizens now live on land that is likely to be
inundated by 2050, compared with just 1 percent according to the earlier
technique. The political and commercial capital, Bangkok, is particularly imperilled.
In Shanghai, one
of Asia’s most important economic engines, water threatens to consume the heart
of the city and many other cities around it.
disappearance of cultural heritage could bring its own kind of devastation.
Alexandria, Egypt, founded by Alexander the Great around 330 B.C., could be
lost to rising waters.
In other places,
the migration caused by rising seas could trigger or exacerbate regional
second-largest city in Iraq, could be mostly underwater by 2050. If that
happens, the effects could be felt well beyond Iraq’s borders, according to
John Castellaw, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general who was chief of
staff for United States Central Command during the Iraq War.
Further loss of
land to rising waters there “threatens to drive further social and political
instability in the region, which could reignite armed conflict and increase the
likelihood of terrorism,” said General Castellaw, who is now on the advisory
board of the Center for Climate and Security, a research and advocacy group in
“So this is far
more than an environmental problem. It’s a humanitarian, security and possibly
military problem too,” he said.
But then, lot is
issues are dependent on environment.
Ionesco of the International Organization for Migration, an intergovernmental
group that coordinates action on migrants and development: “Overall, the
research shows that countries should start preparing now for more citizens to
relocate internally. We’ve been trying to ring the alarm bells. We know that
it’s coming. There is little modern precedent for this scale of population