Risk of Flooding Mapped Around the World
Devastating floods across Pakistan this summer have resulted in more than 1,400 lives lost and one-third of the country being under water.
This raises the question: which nations and their populations are the most vulnerable to the risk of flooding around the world?
Using data from a recent study published in Nature, this graphic maps flood risk around the world, highlighting the 1.81 billion people directly exposed to 1-in-100 year floods. The methodology takes into account potential risks from both inland and coastal flooding.
Asian Countries Most at Risk from Rising Water Levels
Not surprisingly, countries with considerable coastlines, river systems, and flatlands find themselves with high percentages of their population at risk.
The Netherlands and Bangladesh are the only two nations in the world to have more than half of their population at risk due to flooding, at 59% and 58%, respectively. Vietnam (46%), Egypt (41%), and Myanmar (40%) round out the rest of the top five nations.
Besides the Netherlands, only two other European nations are in the top 20 nations by percentage of population at risk, Austria (18th at 29%) and Albania (20th at 28%).
|Rank||Country||Flood risk, by population exposed (%)||Total population exposed|
|#12||🇸🇸 South Sudan||32.5%||5,437,000|
|#15||🇨🇬 Republic of the Congo||29.3%||1,170,000|
The Southeast Asia region alone makes up more than two-thirds of the global population exposed to flooding risk at 1.24 billion people.
China and India account for 395 million and 390 million people, respectively, with both nations at the top in terms of the absolute number of people at risk of rising water levels. The rest of the top five countries by total population at risk are Bangladesh (94 million people at risk), Indonesia (76 million people at risk), and Pakistan (72 million people at risk).
How Flooding is Already Affecting Countries Like Pakistan
While forecasted climate and natural disasters can often take years to manifest, flooding affected more than 100 million people in 2021. Recent summer floods in Pakistan have continued the trend in 2022.
With 31% of its population (72 million people) at risk of flooding, Pakistan is particularly vulnerable to floods.
In 2010, floods in Pakistan were estimated to have affected more than 18 million people. The recent floods, which started in June, are estimated to have affected more than 33 million people as more than one-third of the country is submerged underwater.
The Cost of Floods Today and in the Future
Although the rising human toll is by far the biggest concern that floods present, they also bring with them massive economic costs. Last year, droughts, floods, and storms caused economic losses totaling $224.2 billion worldwide, nearly doubling the 2001-2020 annual average of $117.8 billion.
A recent report forecasted that water risk (caused by droughts, floods, and storms) could eat up $5.6 trillion of global GDP by 2050, with floods projected to account for 36% of these direct losses.
As both human and economic losses caused by floods continue to mount, nations around the world will need to focus on preventative infrastructure and restorative solutions for ecosystems and communities already affected and most at risk of flooding.
The Tourist Beaches Predicted to Shrink the Most
Sandy beaches make up over one-third of the world’s coastline, yet nearly half of them could disappear by 2100.
The Tourist Beaches Predicted to Shrink the Most
Sandy beaches comprise more than one-third of the world’s coastline —but nearly half of this could be gone by 2100.
How this Graphic Works
The source conducted an analysis using European Commission data, estimating global shoreline changes by 2100.
Utilizing this data, they calculated the average decrease or increase (in meters) for the shorelines of the 10 most-reviewed beaches in each country on TripAdvisor.
Subsequently, they identified the top 20 tourist beaches projected to experience the most significant reduction in size. The beach boundaries were delineated using the Google Maps API.
Beaches Shrinking by 2100
According to various research, climate change is the main cause of sea levels rising across the globe. In the 20th century alone, it’s estimated that the mean global sea level rose by 11-16 cm.
Typically, beaches might naturally shift inland in response to higher water levels. However, over the last few decades, beaches, caught between rising seas and structures such as buildings and roads, have found themselves with nowhere to go.
Landmark Beach in Lagos, Nigeria, is expected to be the worst hit by 2100, losing 918.3 m of shoreline due to rising sea levels.
Lagos is already suffering the severe impact of rising seas through increased flooding, water-borne disease, and declining water quality.
|Beach||Country||Shoreline Shrinkage (2100P)|
|Spiaggia La Cinta||🇮🇹 Italy||514.2m|
|Costa do Sol||🇲🇿 Mozambique||453.4m|
|Kuakata Sea||🇧🇩 Bangladesh||361.2m|
|Kabyar Wa||🇲🇲 Myanmar||351.7m|
|Entry of Elegushi||🇳🇬 Nigeria||338.0m|
|Royal Comission Yanbu||🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||336.2m|
|Simaisma North||🇶🇦 Qatar||298.6m|
|Al Thakeera||🇶🇦 Qatar||278.9m|
|Patenga Sea||🇧🇩 Bangladesh||245.8m|
|Morro Branco||🇧🇷 Brazil||224.6m|
|St. Brelade's Bay||🇯🇪 Jersey||213.6m|
|Cape Henlopen||🇺🇸 U.S.||204.7m|
Playa Akumal in Cancún, Mexico, is the North American tourist beach that is expected to shrink the most (265.9 m). Parts of the Quintana Roo coast, where Akumal is found, are already losing up to 4.9 m a year.
Meanwhile, Clearwater Beach in Longboat Key, Florida, is the American beach that is anticipated to shrink the most (193.4 m). Rising sea levels in Clearwater pose an additional concern since the local aquifers, critical for the water supply of millions, are vulnerable to saltwater intrusion.
What’s Causing Sea Levels to Rise?
Since the 1970s, the world has experienced an average temperature increase of 0.15 to 0.20°C per decade, as indicated by NASA research.
This global warming phenomenon has triggered the melting of polar ice caps, resulting in the loss of approximately 28 trillion tonnes of ice within a little over two decades.
Concurrently, global sea levels have escalated by an average of 34.6 mm during the same period.
In the face of the challenge, solutions such as creating dunes along the backshore of beaches, increasing shoreline setbacks, and planting submerged aquatic vegetation to reduce erosion have been studied to mitigate the impact of rising sea levels.
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