The 18 tourist hotspots that could be lost forever due to climate change

There are dozens of sites that are popular with tourists across the world that are at risk. Here are just a handful of them.

London

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Photo: Shutterstock

When the Thames Barrier was first used in 1984, it was predicted that it would only be called upon two or three times a year. Today, we use it around six to seven times a year, meaning that usage has almost tripled in just 35 years. While London is fairly far inland, it doesn't sit too far from the river mouth making it sensitive to tidal fluctuations.

Venice, Italy

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Photo: ALASTAIR MILLER

Probably the most obvious on the list, we already regularly see images of people using elevated planks to cross St Mark's Square in the winter months. There are genuine concerns that the city may not be around for too much longer. Venice's buildings have been sinking – albeit very slowly – into the Adriatic and rising sea levels will only make things worse.

The situation is so bad that Venice features on the World Monuments Fund (WMF) list of places under threat. According to the WMF, cruise ships are only speeding up the process: "The large cruise ships have had direct and indirect impacts on flooding."

Maldives

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Inevitably, small islands are some of the most at-risk areas when it comes to rising sea levels. Throw in the fact that the Maldives is the world's lowest lying nation (on average the islands are only 1.3 meters above sea level) and you have a recipe for disaster. Should waters rise as much as three feet, it would submerge the 1,200 islands enough to make them uninhabitable.

Tropical islands

The Maldives is not alone in potentially being lost to the sea. There are plenty of islands around the world that are destined to share a similar fate. Projections include the loss of the Seychelles, low-lying islands in the Solomons and Micronesia, Kiribati – about halfway between Hawaii and Australia –the islands of the Torres Strait off the north coast of Australia, Palau in the Philippines, the Carteret Islands in the south-west Pacific Ocean and Tuvalu, as well as many more.

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Magdalen Islands, Canada

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Photo: Mathieu Dupuis

It's not just tropical islands that are under threat. Sitting in the Gulf of St Lawrence in Quebec, the Magdalen Islands' sandstone cliffs are susceptible to erosion. As the Earth warms, the wall of sea ice that protects the archipelago from the blustering winds and sea spray is melting rapidly. With this last line of defence gone, it is likely that the islands will erode even more quickly than their current rate of loss – a massive 40 inches a year.   

The North Pole

All this water has to be coming from somewhere, and much of it is coming from the vast glaciers and icebergs of the Arctic and Antarctic. The ice caps are melting so quickly in fact that it's believed that in just a few generation's time, true magnetic north will no longer be found on a chunk of sea ice, but above water. There will be no more standing on the North Pole.

Polar bear spotting in the Arctic

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Photo: AP

The melting of the ice caps is also threatening the polar bear's habitat and way of life. These strong carnivores use the ice to hunt seals and burn through a whopping 12,325 calories a day. They are completely dependent on being able hunt seals on firm ground. As the ice reduces, so do the hunting grounds, leading to increasing reports of polar bears dying of starvation.

Key West, Florida

Even before hurricane Irma hit the tailend of Florida back in 2017, Key West was having problems with the environment. Rising seas and warnings by the Army Corps of Engineers has encouraged the small city to take drastic measures. They have invested one million dollars into elevating their roads before they too become a permanent underwater attraction.

Miami, Florida

Celebrity Edge cruise ship arrives in Miami.

Celebrity Edge cruise ship arrives in Miami.

More than one of Florida's cities are under threat. King tides are already surging over coastal defences to send water a couple of feet high surging down Miami's streets – and the future is bleak. In fact, if the Earth's temperature rises by as much as four degrees, 93 per cent of the city's residents could find themselves displaced. Fort Lauderdale to the north and the equally popular Everglades National Park to the west are also at risk.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

<i>The Ho Chi Minh City skyline and Saigon River.</i>

The Ho Chi Minh City skyline and Saigon River. Photo: Shutterstock

Set on the Saigon River, Ho Chi Minh City is more susceptible to rising sea levels than other major tourist destinations according to research. With just a 1.5 degree increase in temperature (billed as the 'best case scenario'), the city will suffer one of the greatest sea level rises out of all the world's major cities at 3.1 metres. This could see historic landmarks flooded and 29 per cent of the population affected.

Bangladesh

Much like Venice, the plight of Bangladesh is not a new one. The country already experiences floods that cover around a quarter of its landmass every year and this only predicted to worsen with time. Citizens here are already learning to adapt their way of life to combat the change in their environment, with farmers using rafts to transfer produce and agriculture when the waters rise.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Photo: Shutterstock

The popular Brazilian city has been cited as one of the biggest losers of rising sea levels. It has been speculated that should warming continue at its current rate, the waters around the city could rise up to 32 inches by 2100. Its popular beaches could be gone, along with its airport. Fortunately, Christ the Redeemer is high enough to escape the rising tide.

Alexandria, Egypt

Once the home of the most extensive library on Earth, today it's not just the loss of knowledge that Alexandria laments, but the possibility that more of its history will be swallowed by water. The city's beaches could be submerged with as little as half a metre rise in sea levels and as many as eight million people displaced. Coastal flooding could also affect the Nile Delta and the towns and villages along its banks.

Pompeii, Italy

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Photo: Shutterstock

The residents of this Italian city once faced one of the worst natural disasters in human history. Now it is under threat from the sea. Dr Lena Reimann, of the coastal risks and sea level research group at Keil recently said that: ""Pompeii is at low to moderate risk from coastal erosion and erosion risk may increase by up to 16 per cent under the high-end sea-level rise scenarios until 2100".

Ancient Mediterranean sites

<i>Tourists at a viewpoint on Srd hill looking at Dubrovnik panorama in Dubrovnik, Croatia.</i>

Tourists at a viewpoint on Srd hill looking at Dubrovnik panorama in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Photo: Shutterstock

It's not just Pompeii that is under threat in the Mediterranean. The Patriarchal Basilica of Aquileia in Italy is also at risk as storm surges threaten the 5th Century city, much of which has not yet been excavated. Increasing water levels also threaten Herculaneum, Istanbul and Dubrovnik, as well as the kasbah at Algiers, the Medieval city of Rhodes and the archaeological site of Carthage.

Osaka, Japan

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Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

According to new data, the high risk level posed to Osaka could affect as many as 5.2 million people. Like much of the rest of the country, the city employs the use of seawalls to protect its shore. But there is only so long that this can work. The thriving Japanese city could soon be lost to the sea.

Bangkok, Thailand

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Photo: Shutterstock

Asian cities really have drawn a bad hand here, with many of them likely to be significantly affected by rising sea levels. Even if the Earth warms towards the more conservative end of projections – around two degrees by 2100 – 42 per cent of this hugely popular tourist destination's inhabitants will be displaced with waters projected to rise by 4.9 metres, flooding much of Bangkok.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Houseboats in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Houseboats in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Photo: Shutterstock

Things aren't looking good for the popular European city considering that parts of it are already four metres below sea level. While the Netherlands' capital isn't too worried just yet thanks to its series of innovative dykes and dams, research shows that should the Earth's temperature warm by four degrees, the sea level around Amsterdam could rise by a whopping 7.6 metres, potentially displacing as much as 98 per cent of the city's population.  

The Telegraph, London
 

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