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FLOODED FUTURE:
Global vulnerability
to sea level rise
worse than previously
understood
October 29, 2019
Report by
Climate Central
Flooding in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 2017.
Source: World Meteorological Organization / Flickr
ARTICLE
New elevation data triple estimates of global
vulnerability to sea-level rise and coastal flooding
Scott A. Kulp1* & Benjamin H. Strauss 1
Most estimates of global mean sea-level rise this century fall below 2 m. This quantity is
comparable to the positive vertical bias of the principle digital elevation model (DEM) used to
assess global and national population exposures to extreme coastal water levels, NASA’s
SRTM. CoastalDEM is a new DEM utilizing neural networks to reduce SRTM error. Here we
show – employing CoastalDEM—that 190 M people (150–250 M, 90% CI) currently occupy
global land below projected high tide lines for 2100 under low carbon emissions, up from 110
M today, for a median increase of 80 M. These figures triple SRTM-based values. Under high
emissions, CoastalDEM indicates up to 630 M people live on land below projected annual
flood levels for 2100, and up to 340 M for mid-century, versus roughly 250 M at present. We
estimate one billion people now occupy land less than 10 m above current high tide lines,
including 250 M below 1 m.
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12808-z OPEN
1 Climate Central, Palmer Square #402, Princeton, NJ 08542, USA. *email: skulp@climatecentral.org
NATURE COMMUNICATIONS | (2019)10:4844 | https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12808-z | www.nature.com/naturecommunications 1
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