Nagoya is another densely populated city in Japan that would suffer severe inundation if sea level rise surpasses 1 meter. A recent study shows that the 2-meter mark could be reached by 2100 if we do not curb our emissions. 

Earth.Org has mapped what such flooding could look like in Nagoya. 

Nagoya is Japan’s fourth-largest city, home to over 2 million people and part of the larger Chukyo metropolitan area. It is one of the most important ports and industrial hubs in the country, with 60% of Japan’s machine tool production and the largest import and export tonnage of the country. Nagoya’s GDP is USD $577 billion, ranking 21st in the world behind Switzerland and above Sweden. 

Located on the flat Nobi plain, the city sits next to the natural Kiso and Shonai Rivers, and the man-made Hori River which was constructed in 1610. During the wet summers, the agglomeration can experience occasional floods, but these remain a minor problem today. However, if emissions are not curbed, we could experience an average sea level rise of 1 to 2 meters around the globe. 

Nagoya is ill-prepared to handle the floods this would cause, and preventive measures such as dikes, seawalls, and levees would be extremely costly. Japan seems ready to invest heavily in protecting its essential cities, as demonstrated by the G-Cans in Tokyo.

Earth.Org has mapped what the worst-case scenario could look like in Nagoya by 2100 to illustrate the need for protection. 

sea level rise by 2100 nagoya

Sea level rise projections by 2100 for two scenarios with the amount of rise in meters indicated (mild = 1m; extreme = 4m). Percentage and total population displacement indicated bottom right.


Global mean sea level is projected to rise by 2m at the end of this century. However, in order to determine local sea level rise (SLR), one has to take into account local coastal flood levels which could be 2.8m above Mean Higher-High Water (MHHW) at extreme forecasts. These local levels bring variability to the projected SLR from 1m to 6.5m (eg. Rio vs Kolkata).

The SLR scenarios used in this study are based on the forecasts from Climate Central – Coastal Risk Screening Tool  with the following parameters:

Sea level Projection Source:

From two highly cited journals by Kopp et al., estimating SLR mainly due to ocean thermal expansion and ice melt. The mid-range scenario projected 0.5-1.2m of SLR based on different representative concentration pathways (RCP) defined by the IPCC. While the pessimistic scenario added more mechanisms of ice-sheet melting, estimating SLR at 1m-2.5m in 2100, with a projection of 10m SLR at 2300.

Coastal Flooding

More frequent coastal flooding is a direct impact of sea-level rise. Based on the Global tides and surge reanalysis by Muis et al., (2016), it is estimated that the extreme coastal water level could be from 0.2 – 2.8m over the mean level. While in extreme cases like China and the Netherlands it could experience 5-10m of extreme sea levels. Here, the coastal local flood level is added on top of the projected SLR.

Pollution Scenario:

Allows choosing the RCP, the greenhouse gas concentration trajectory defined by the IPCC.  The mild level is based on RCP4.5, of 2°C temperature rise; while the Extreme level is based on RCP 8.5, of 4°C temperature rise.


Applies to the baseline SLR, defined in the “Sea level projection” section, upon which we add flooding. “Mild” refers to the mid-range scenario of 0.5-1.2m, and “extreme” to the pessimistic scenario of 1-2.5m. We used the high-end value of each scenario (mild = 1m; extreme = 2.5m).

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