Climatic Change

, Volume 93, Issue 3–4, pp 379–388 | Cite as

The impact of sea level rise on developing countries: a comparative analysis

  • Susmita DasguptaEmail author
  • Benoit Laplante
  • Craig Meisner
  • David Wheeler
  • Jianping Yan


Sea-level rise (SLR) due to climate change is a serious global threat: The scientific evidence is now overwhelming. Continued growth of greenhouse gas emissions and associated global warming could well promote SLR of 1 m in this century, and unexpectedly rapid breakup of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets might produce a 3–5 m SLR. In this paper, we assess the consequences of continued SLR for 84 coastal developing countries. Geographic Information System (GIS) software has been used to overlay the best available, spatially disaggregated global data on critical impact elements (land, population, agriculture, urban extent, wetlands, and GDP), with the inundation zones projected for 1–5 m SLR. Our results reveal that tens of millions of people in the developing world are likely to be displaced by SLR within this century; and accompanying economic and ecological damage will be severe for many. At the country level results are extremely skewed, with severe impacts limited to a relatively small number of countries.


Gross Domestic Product Digital Elevation Model Nile Delta Outlet Glacier Exposure Indicator 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susmita Dasgupta
    • 1
    Email author
  • Benoit Laplante
    • 2
  • Craig Meisner
    • 1
  • David Wheeler
    • 4
  • Jianping Yan
    • 3
  1. 1.Development Research GroupWorld BankWashington DCUSA
  2. 2.Independent consultantMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Independent consultantTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Center for Global DevelopmentWashington DCUSA

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