Oct. 31, 2019

According to a research published in Nature Communications, the number of people in India threatened by rising sea-levels is at least seven times more than previously estimated.


  • Researchers of Climate Central, an independent organisation of climate scientists, have developed a new tool that measures elevation of land from mean sea levels with much greater accuracy than earlier models.

  • Their new tool, called CoastalDEM (or Coastal Digital Elevation Model), which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning on 51 million data samples, brought down this error to less than 2.5 inches on an average.

Key findings:

  • Around 300 million people, and not 80 million as estimated earlier, across the globe were currently living in areas that were below the annual coastal flood line.

  • Almost 80 per cent of these 300 million people live in China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. China alone accounted for 43 million.

  • Around 36 million people along the Indian coastlines currently live on land that will fall below the annual flood level by 2050, exposing them to risks of flooding, damage to infrastructure, loss of livelihood, or permanent displacement. The previous estimate was of 5 million people.

  • West Bengal and coastal Odisha are projected to be particularly vulnerable, as is the eastern city of Kolkata.

  • Except for some areas near Kakinada, the threats to the coastlines of the southern states have not been affected by the new measurements.