A global ranking of port cities with high exposure to climate extremes

Abstract

This paper presents a first estimate of the exposure of the world’s large port cities (population exceeding one million inhabitants in 2005) to coastal flooding due to sea-level rise and storm surge now and in the 2070s, taking into account scenarios of socio-economic and climate changes. The analysis suggests that about 40 million people (0.6% of the global population or roughly 1 in 10 of the total port city population in the cities considered) are currently exposed to a 1 in 100 year coastal flood event. For assets, the total value exposed in 2005 across all cities considered is estimated to be US$3,000 billion; corresponding to around 5% of global GDP in 2005 (both measured in international USD) with USA, Japan and the Netherlands being the countries with the highest values. By the 2070s, total population exposed could grow more than threefold due to the combined effects of sea-level rise, subsidence, population growth and urbanisation with asset exposure increasing to more than ten times current levels or approximately 9% of projected global GDP in this period. On the global-scale, population growth, socio-economic growth and urbanization are the most important drivers of the overall increase in exposure particularly in developing countries, as low-lying areas are urbanized. Climate change and subsidence can significantly exacerbate this increase in exposure. Exposure is concentrated in a few cities: collectively Asia dominates population exposure now and in the future and also dominates asset exposure by the 2070s. Importantly, even if the environmental or socio-economic changes were smaller than assumed here the underlying trends would remain. This research shows the high potential benefits from risk-reduction planning and policies at the city scale to address the issues raised by the possible growth in exposure.

References

  1. Burniaux J-C, Chateau J (2008) An overview of the OECD Env-linkages model. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Paris

    Google Scholar 

  2. Corfee-Morlot J, Cochran I, Hallegatte S, Teasdale P-J (2011) Multilevel risk governance and urban adaptation policy. Clim Change. doi:10.1007/s10584-010-9980-9

    Google Scholar 

  3. DAC (2006) List of aid recipients. Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Paris

    Google Scholar 

  4. Dao H, van Woerden J (2009) Population data for climate change analysis. In: Guzmán JM, Martine G, McGranahan G, Schensul D, Tacoli C (eds) Population dynamics and climate change. United Nations Population Fund and International Institute for Environment and Development, New York

    Google Scholar 

  5. Dawson RJ, Hall JW, Bates PD, Nicholls RJ (2005) Quantified analysis of the probability of flooding in the Thames Estuary under imaginable worst case sea-level rise scenarios. Int J Water Resourc Dev 21:577–591

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Delinom RM (2008) Groundwater management issues in the Greater Jakarta area, Indonesia. TERC Bull, University of Tsukuba 8(2):40–54

    Google Scholar 

  7. Dixon TH, Amelung F, Ferretti A, Novali F, Rocca F, Dokka R, Sella G, Kim S-W, Wdowinski S, Whitman D (2006) Subsidence and flooding in New Orleans. Nature 441:587–588

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Evans E, Ashley RM, Hall J, Penning-Rowsell E, Saul A, Sayers P, Thorne C, Watkinson A (2004) ‘Foresight’, future flooding scientific summary, vol I and II. Office of Science and Technology (OST), London

    Google Scholar 

  9. Fisher BS, Nakicenovic N, Alfsen K, Corfee Morlot J, de la Chesnaye F, Hourcade J-C, Jiang K, Kainuma M, La Rovere E, Matysek A, Rana A, Riahi K, Richels R, Rose S, van Vuuren D, Warren R (2007) Issues related to mitigation in the long term context. In: Metz B, Davidson OR, Bosch PR, Dave R, Meyer LA (eds) Climate change 2007: mitigation. Contribution of working group III to the fourth assessment report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  10. Garcia PR (2008) The role of the port authority and the municipality in port transformation: Barcelona, San Francisco and Lisbon. Plan Perspect 23:49–79

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Grossi P, Muir-Wood R (2006) Flood risk in New Orleans: implications for future management and insurability. Risk Management Solutions (RMS), London

    Google Scholar 

  12. Guzmán JM, Martine G, McGranahan G, Schensul D, Tacoli C (eds) (2009) Population dynamics and climate change. United Nations Population Fund and International Institute for Environment and Development, New York

    Google Scholar 

  13. Hallegatte S (2008) An adaptive regional input–output model and its application to the assessment of the economic cost of Katrina. Risk Anal 28(3):779–799. doi:10.1111/j.1539-6924.2008.01046

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Hallegatte S, Ranger N, Mestre O, Dumas P, Corfee Morlot J, Herweijer C, Muir Wood R (2011) Assessing climate change impacts, sea-level rise and storm surge risk in port cities: A case study on Copenhagen. Clim Change. doi:10.1007/s10584-010-9978-3

    Google Scholar 

  15. Hoozemans FMJ, Marchand M, Pennekamp HA (1993) A global vulnerability analysis: vulnerability assessment for population, coastal wetlands and rice production on a global scale, 2nd edition. Delft Hydraulics and Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management. The Hague, The Netherlands

    Google Scholar 

  16. IPCC (2007) Summary for policymakers. In: Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miller HL (eds) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  17. Klein RJT, Nicholls RJ, Ragoonaden S, Capobianco M, Aston J, Buckley EN (2001) Technological options for adaptation to climate change in coastal zones. J Coast Res 17:531–543

    Google Scholar 

  18. Leatherman SP, Kershaw P (2002) Sea level rise and coastal disasters. National Academies Press, Washington

    Google Scholar 

  19. McGranahan G, Balk D, Anderson B (2007) The rising tide: assessing the risks of climate change and human settlements in low elevation coastal zones. Environ Urban 19:17–37

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Muir Wood R, Bateman W (2005) Uncertainties and constraints on breaching and their implications for flood loss estimation. Philos Trans R Soc Lond A 363:1423–1430

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Munich Re (2004) Megacities, Megarisks. Münchener Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft, Munich

    Google Scholar 

  22. Nicholls RJ (1995) Coastal megacities and climate change. Geojournal 37:369–379

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Nicholls RJ (2002) Analysis of global impacts of sea-level rise: a case study of flooding. Phys Chem Earth 27:1455–1466

    Google Scholar 

  24. Nicholls RJ (2004) Global flooding and wetland loss in the 21st century: changes under the SRES climate and socio-economic scenarios. Glob Environ Chang 14:69–86

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Nicholls RJ, Hanson S, Herweijer C, Patmore N, Hallegatte S, Corfee-Morlot J, Chateau J, Muir-Wood R (2007) Ranking port cities with high exposure and vulnerability to climate extremes—exposure estimates. Environmental Working Paper No 1, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Paris

  26. Nicholls RJ, Hoozemans FMJ, Marchand M (1999) Increasing flood risk and wetland losses due to global sea-level rise: regional and global analyses. Glob Environ Change 9:S69–S87

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. OECD (2006) Competitive cities in the global economy. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Paris

    Google Scholar 

  28. OECD (2008) OECD Environmental Outlook to 2030. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Paris

    Google Scholar 

  29. Rahmstorf S (2007) A semi-empirical approach to projecting future sea-level rise. Science 315:368–370

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Rosenzweig C, Solecki WD (2001) Climate change and a global city; the potential consequences of climate variability and change—Metro East Coast. Report for the US Global Change Program, National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate variability and Change for the United States, Columbia Earth Institute, New York

  31. Sabesan A, Abercrombie K, Ganguly AR, Bhaduri B, Bright EA, Coleman PR (2007) Metrics for the comparative analysis of geospatial datasets with applications to high-resolution grid-based population data. Geojournal 69:81–91

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Small C, Nicholls RJ (2003) A global analysis of human settlement in coastal zones. J Coast Res 19:584–599

    Google Scholar 

  33. Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miller HL (eds) (2007) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p 996

    Google Scholar 

  34. Thorne C, Evans E, Penning-Rowsell E (eds) (2007) Future flooding and coastal erosion risks. Thomas Telford, London, p 350

    Google Scholar 

  35. UNFPA (2007) Unleashing the potential of urban growth. State of world population 2007, United Nations Population Fund, New York

    Google Scholar 

  36. UNCTAD (2008) Review of maritime transport. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), New York

    Google Scholar 

  37. United Nations (2004a) World population to 2300. United Nations, New York

    Google Scholar 

  38. United Nations (2004b) World population prospects. The 2004 revision. United Nations, New York

    Google Scholar 

  39. United Nations (2005) World urbanization prospects. The 2005 revision. United Nations, New York

    Google Scholar 

  40. Vafeidis AT, Nicholls RJ, McFadden L, Tol RSJ, Hinkel J, Spencer T, Grassff PS, Boot G, Klein RJT (2008) A new global coastal database for impact and vulnerability analysis to sea-level rise. J Coast Res 24:917–924

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Wigley TML (2005) The climate change commitment. Science 307:1766–1769

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Wilbanks T, Romero-Lankao P, Berkhout F, Ceron J-P, Cairncross S, Bao M, Kapshe M, Muir-Wood R, Zapata-Marti R (2007) Industry, settlement and society. In Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, van der Linden P, Hanson CE (eds) Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of working group II to the fourth assessment report of the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 357–390

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Susan Hanson or Robert Nicholls.

Rights and permissions

This article is published under an open access license. Please check the 'Copyright Information' section for details of this license and what re-use is permitted. If your intended use exceeds what is permitted by the license or if you are unable to locate the licence and re-use information, please contact the Rights and Permissions team.

About this article

Cite this article

Hanson, S., Nicholls, R., Ranger, N. et al. A global ranking of port cities with high exposure to climate extremes. Climatic Change 104, 89–111 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-010-9977-4

Download citation

Keywords

  • Gross Domestic Product
  • Flood Risk
  • Shuttle Radar Topography Mission
  • Purchasing Power Parity
  • Port City