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Cardiff named one of world's most at risk cities from global warming

What do the cities of Bangkok, Ho Chi Min City, Shenzen, Melbourne, Amsterdam and Cardiff all have in common?

They are the cities most in danger from climate change according to a new report.

The consequences of global heating are already been seen around the world with increased grass fires, hotter summers and quickly diminishing ice caps.

However a new study suggests that the impact is going to be very severe close to home with the Welsh capital facing enormous challenges as sea levels rise.

Where does Cardiff rank?

Of the 85 world cities looked at by this Nestpick funded research Cardiff was ranked 6th for most impacted by global warming.

It is one of only two European cities in the top 10 and much higher than the next UK city, London, which is ranked 22nd.

This table shows the top 10 cities as well as the temperature changes they are facing:

What does this actually mean?

To work this out the researchers have looked at three things that could affect the cities by 2050:

  • Sea level - How much the rise in ocean levels due to ice melt will affect the city.

  • Climate shift score - This looks at how the weather will change including rain fall and max/min temperatures.

  • Water shortage - How the demand for water will match up to falling supplies.

Cities in the top 10 are impacted by these things in different ways.

Melbourne for instance is not really affected by sea level rise but is massively at risk of water shortages.

Nairobi in Kenya by contrast is more at risk from changes in weather.

Cardiff is a little different. You may have noticed that in Wales it is always raining so drinking water is unlikely to be too much of an issue. However sea level rise is a huge issue. The Welsh capital has a ranking of 45.88 which is what is causing it to be so far up the rankings.

There is a serious risk that, if we do not urgently cut our emissions, most of Cardiff will be underwater.

This image from climate change organisation Climate Central shows how much of the city could be under water in 80 years time:

How much of Cardiff that will be underwater in 80 years (Climate Central)

This will also bring many more homes into risk of flooding. They can be seen here:

Areas in south Wales at risk of flooding (Climate Central)

According to Climate Central, by 2050, sea-level rise will mean land now home to 300 million people will on average flood at least once a year. Previous estimates had put that figure at about 80 million.

In the UK, 3.6 million people would face annual flooding by 2050 and up to 5.4 million by 2100 if emissions continue to rise.

You can see how the rest of Wales would be impacted by flooding here.

“These results are eye-opening to our team at Nestpick, as a number of the cities which will undergo the most drastic changes in climate over the next three decades such as Bangkok and Amsterdam are some of the most popular destinations with expats and contractors looking for opportunities abroad. Millennials, Gen Z-ers and those even younger will increasingly need to keep climate change in mind when searching for the city they would like to eventually settle in,” Comments Omer Kucukdere, CEO at Nestpick.

“Governments need to be aware of potential changes coming so that they can mitigate damage. Proper funding into infrastructure and safeguarding would help to ensure that these cities stay ahead of climate-related problems, and ensure the livelihood of these urban centres for future generations.”

In response to the findings a Cardiff Council spokesman said: “Residents can be reassured that Cardiff Council is currently working with Welsh Government to reinforce its coastal defences so they are able to deal with predicted rises in sea levels caused by the climate emergency.

“The city is built around three rivers which flow into the second-highest tidal estuary in the world. It has always been at risk of flooding and our civil contingencies risk register recognises it as the main risk to the city.

“That’s why it’s absolutely critical that any new flood defences are designed to offset any rise in sea levels.

“Climate change and its effects carry a serious threat to people across the globe, which is why this council and Welsh Government declared a Climate Emergency last year. The council is currently developing a one planet policy to help tackle climate change with the aim of making our city carbon neutral in the future.”

How accurate are these studies?

It is always hard to be exact predictions of the future and even the best people in their field can make mistakes.

However the evidence of man made climate change is completely overwhleming. Despite this there are many myths about climate change that we have debunked here.

To do this work the researchers consulted several existing research methodologies from established climate change experts and reports to build the framework for our research.

These include Jean-Francois Bastin, an Ecologist at the University of Ghent, the Koppen-Geiger climate classification system, the World Resources Institute data on water shortages, and more. They then put together a list of 85 cities which were covered in these existing studies. Looking at climate categorisation, average temperature, sea-level changes and water stress, they then determined which cities are predicted to experience the highest and lowest climate change shift between now and 2050.

The climate projections in this study are based on the “business as usual” scenario. This scenario is described by the World Resources Institute as: "The "Business as usual" scenario (SSP2 RCP4.5) represents a world with stable economic development and steadily rising global carbon emissions, with CO2 concentrations reaching ~1370 ppm by 2100 and global mean temperatures increasing by 2.6–4.8°C relative to 1986–2005 levels."

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