Sea Level Rise – Who's at Risk?
Higher amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere come with higher temperatures on Earth. As a result, frozen surfaces melt and water bodies expand – the main drivers of sea level rise. The following infographics give an overview of human lives that are at coastal flood risk due to rising seas and oceans, today and tomorrow.
Here I present, based on the research works of Kulp and Strauss (2019) for 194 countries, the number of people at flood risk today; in 2100 with a moderate greenhouse gas emissions scenario; in 2100 with an extreme scenario and high greenhouse gas emissions and Antarctic ice instability. The contribution of each country to sea level rise, as described in Hardy and Nuse (2016), is also indicated. Values are "flattened" using log-transformations so we can easily see how many humans are at risk, regardless of population size.
In the visuals, white shapes represent at-risk populations in 2100 under what is known as the business-as-usual scenario – a future where we still emmit massive amounts of greenhouse gases. In this scenario, the likelihood of unforeseen events such as a melting Antarctic greatly increase and further contribute to sea level rise. For several North American islands for instance, this means a hundred times more people would be at coastal flood risk in 2100 than now.
The topic was brought to my attention by the excellent visualizations from Gabrielle Mérite & KatKat Studio. As per usual, I first gathered thoughts and drew artwork ideas on paper, and then jumped into programming to explore datasets. I applied R's tidyverse functions to generate basic vector graphics that I further customized in Illustrator and Photoshop using layer blending, styling, masking, and adjustments.
Flood risk data: Kulp and Strauss (2019), New Elevation Data Triple Estimates of Global Vulnerability to Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Flooding
Contribution to sea level rise data: Hardy and Nuse (2016), Global Sea-Level Rise - Weighting Country Responsibility and Risk
Population growth data: https://ourworldindata.org/world-population-growth