Rising rivers: 15 river cities that could become uninhabitable

How climate change could impact river cities around the world

James McCay

Dec 10, 2021

One of the dangers of climate change is coastal flooding and inundation – but it’s not just coastlines that are at risk. Worst case scenarios show that a range of river cities, even ones that are quite a distance from the coast, are at risk of going under.1

We collated data prepared by Climate Central to visualise what a 4°C (39.2°F) increase to average temperatures could mean to some of the world’s most famous river cities, plus a host of locations here in Australia and abroad.

If you’re dreaming of purchasing a property in one of these cities as a holiday home or idyllic retirement spot, you might want to consider altering your plans.

Global Cities


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Methodology and Sources

We used a Keyhole Markup Language (KML) file prepared by Climate Central in Google Earth to get our visualisations. The file was based on findings from a scientific paper by Benjamin H. Strauss, Scott Kulp and Anders Levermann. The scientific paper, “Carbon choices determine US cities committed to futures below sea level” was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Volume 112 Issue 44 in 2015. The sea level rises in the visualisation are based on an average temperature rise of 4°C by the year 2100, but do not include any future flood levees or mitigation measures that could be taken.2

1. Land projected to be below annual flood level in 2100. Coastal Risk Screening Tool, Climate Central. 2021.

2. Benjamin H Strauss, Scott Kulp, Anders Levermann. “Reply to Boyd et al.: Large long-term sea level projections do not mean giving up on coastal cities,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.Volume 113 Issue 10, page 1330. 2016.