A flood in Beijing, China in 2023.

Could Beijing Be Underwater In 100 Years?

Cities in China are sinking and satellite imagery shows Beijing is among one of the fastest going under.

According to a new study in the journal Science, development and groundwater pumping are causing land subsidence and heightening the risks of sea level rise.

Within 100 years, a quarter of China’s urban coastal land could sit below sea level.

In this episode of The Briefing, climate scientist and civil engineer Robert Nicholls explains why China’s cities are sinking:

Civil engineer Robert Nicholls from the University of East Anglia reviewed the study which estimated 16 per cent of the country’s major cities are losing more than 10 millimetres of elevation per year, and nearly half are losing more than 3 millimetres.

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“We talk about climate change and the sea rising cause the sea is higher. But if the land sinks, you have the same effect,” Nicholls said.

Pumping water from aquifers underneath the cities, oil drilling and coal mining, are leaving empty space underground where soil and rocks can compact or collapse.

“It really means these areas will all be flooded or completely submerged. Unless
they either raise them by setting the surface of the land,” he said.

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