Pictures: What rising sea levels will do to South Africa’s coastal cities

New research from non-profit group Climate Central shows how major coastal cities around the world are at risk due to rising sea levels and climate change.

Climate Central is an independent group of scientists and communicators who research and report the facts about our changing climate and how it affects people’s lives.

The group’s latest data, published this week in Environmental Research Letters, identifies which areas may be saved or lost in the long term as a result of present-day climate actions, potentially tied to the outcomes of the upcoming COP26 UN climate negotiations.

“Hundreds of coastal cities and land where up to one billion people live today are at stake. And the difference between increases of 1.5C and 2.0C degrees of warming is especially acute,” it said.

“Compared to the jump from 2.0C to 3.0C, this smaller increase adds nearly twice as much at-risk populated area, highlighting the consequences of missing the most ambitious targets in the Paris Agreement.”

Paired with data and imagery from Google Earth, the research enables precise illustration of projected water levels. Climate Central has prepared imagery covering more than 100 coastal cities in 39 countries – including historical sites in Durban and Cape Town.


City Centre, Cape Town (present day)

City Centre, Cape Town (+1.5C)

City Centre, Cape Town (+3C)


Blue Train Park, Cape Town (present day)

Blue Train Park, Cape Town (+1.5C)

Blue Train Park, Cape Town (+3C)


City Hall, Durban (present day)

City Hall, Durban (+1.5C)

City Hall, Durban (+3C)


Old House Museum, Durban (present day)

Old House Museum, Durban (+1.5C)

Old House Museum, Durban (+3C)


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Pictures: What rising sea levels will do to South Africa’s coastal cities