Ningbo is one of the busiest ports in the world, located in the Zhejiang province of China on the East China sea. It is one of the major Chinese agglomerations that sea level rise will put at high risk of flooding.

Earth.Org has mapped severe inundation in Ningbo by 2100 to raise awareness. 

The Ningbo metropolitan area, comprising the city proper and three satellite cities, lies 270 km south of Shanghai on the Hangzhou Bay estuary. Ranked in the top ten global port cities since 2009, it has experienced rapid growth and its population, at 7.5 million today, is expected to reach 10 million by 2030. It also ranks in the top twenty most exposed ports to future coastal flooding due to sea level rise. 

Featuring a tropical climate with a pronounced typhoon and heavy rain season, Ningbo is familiar with costly floods. In 2005, Typhoon Kanu brought both an intense rainstorm and a powerful storm surge, incurring USD $585 million in losses. The number of people exposed to such flooding events is around 300,000 today, but population growth and sea level rise will increase this to a whopping 3.3 million by 2070. 

While studies have shown that better storm predictions could allow the city’s current infrastructure to better withstand storm surges, the 1 to 2 meter increase in global sea levels predicted by Climate Central’s 2019 study will likely overrun Ningbo’s defenses. 

Officials still have time to draft a long term plan, but cost will be high and execution time-consuming. Earth.Org has modelled extreme flooding in Ningbo by 2100 as a call to action.

sea level rise by 2100 ningbo

Sea level rise projections by 2100 for two scenarios with the amount of rise in meters indicated (mild = 2m; extreme = 4m). 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).

Mapping and methodology by Braundt Lau.

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