Cities that could be underwater by 2030

With global sea levels rising, several major cities are at risk of being submerged.

It can be difficult to visualize global warming. How do you know it’s really happening if you’re not directly threatened by rising sea levels, water scarcity, or wildfires? It can all seem a little hazy.

That is why initiatives like Climate Central are so important. This website generates maps that show which parts of the world may become submerged due to rising sea levels. So, as the planet continues to warm and pollution levels rise, which cities around the world could find themselves underwater as early as 2030? We looked at Climate Central’s most recent maps, which are based on the IPCC’s 2021 report – in other words, some of the most trustworthy climate-change data available.

Of course, there are numerous variables at work here, but what we’re looking at is what might happen if pollution continues on its current path. These maps depict future sea levels, but not what might happen during flooding or other extreme weather events.

Between now and 2030, a lot can happen. We could build flood defenses, adapt our cities, and, ideally, take dramatic action to halt global warming if the COP26 talks go as planned. But if none of that happens, here are the potential consequences: nine cities that could be completely (or partially) submerged within a decade.

#1 Basra, Iraq

basra iraq

Basra, Iraq’s main port city, is located on the Shatt al-Arab, a massive and wide river that flows into the Persian Gulf. Basra and its surrounding areas are especially vulnerable to sea-level rise due to their intricate network of canals and streams, as well as nearby marshland. As if that wasn’t enough, Basra already has a high rate of waterborne diseases, so increased flooding poses even more serious risks.

#2 Amsterdam, the Netherlands


There’s a reason they’re referred to as the Low Countries. The cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague are low, flat, and close to the North Sea. The Dutch are well-known for their flood defenses, and based on these sea-level projections, it appears that the country’s system of dikes, dams, barriers, levees, and floodgates will become even more important in the coming years.

Plan a trip to Amsterdam

#3 New Orleans, USA

new orleans

The city has a levee system, which protects it from a swarm of red building up from Lake Maurepas in the north and Lake Salvador and Little Lake in the south. Without those defenses, rising sea levels would pose a serious threat to New Orleans, but even with them, the damage appears to be catastrophic. The Biloxi and Jean Lafitte wildlife preserves appear particularly vulnerable – both appear almost completely submerged on the map.

Plan a trip to New Orleans

#4 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

ho chi minh city

The areas most vulnerable in Ho Chi Minh City are its eastern districts, particularly the flat, densely built-up marshland of Th Thiêm. However, it appears that the city will be increasingly threatened along the Mekong Delta. While Ho Chi Minh City’s core is unlikely to be submerged by 2030, it will almost certainly be more vulnerable to flooding and tropical storms.

Plan a trip to Ho Chi Minh City

#5 Venice, Italy

venice italy

Venice faces a dual threat in the near future: rising sea levels and the city itself sinking – by two millimetres per year. The Venetian capital has already been flooded, and climate change is expected to increase the frequency of high tides that submerge it. Venice, like New Orleans, has flood-defence systems in place, but as the crisis worsens, they will become more difficult (and expensive) to maintain.

Plan a trip to Venice

#6 Bangkok, Thailand

bangkok thailand

According to a 2020 study, Bangkok could be the city hardest hit by global warming in the short term. The Thai capital is only 1.5 metres above sea level and, like Venice, is sinking (only much faster rate – by two to three centimetres per year). However, Bangkok is built on very dense clay soil, making it even more prone to flooding. Most of the coastal Tha Kham and Samut Prakan areas, as well as its main airport, Suvarnabhumi International, could be underwater by 2030.

Plan a trip to Bangkok

#7 Kolkata, India

kolkata india

Because of its fertile landscape, much of west Bengal has thrived for centuries, this has become a major source of concern in Kolkata and its surrounding areas. The city, like Ho Chi Minh City, may struggle during the monsoon season because rainwater has less land to run off into.

Plan a trip to Kolkata

#8 Savannah, USA

savannah usa

Savannah, Georgia, is located in a hurricane hotspot, but even if no extreme weather events occur, the historic city could be swallowed up by the sea on all sides. The Savannah River in the north and the Ogeechee River in the south could both spill into nearby marshland, which means that when hurricanes and flash floods hit the city (and by 2050, the city is expected to experience once-in-a-century historical flood levels every year), the effects could be even more severe.

Plan a trip to Savannah

#9 Georgetown, Guyana

georgetown guyana

For centuries, the capital of Guyana, Georgetown, has relied on sea walls – or, more precisely, one massive, 280-mile-long sea wall – for storm protection. This is due to the fact that the majority of the coastline is between 0.5 and one metre below high tide. The coast is home to 90 percent of Guyana’s population, and as you can see, the country will need to significantly strengthen its sea wall if Georgetown’s central areas are to avoid massive damage.

Plan a trip to Georgetown

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