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30 global airports that could be flooded by 2100

  • 30 global airports that could be flooded by 2100

    While it’s unknown by exactly how much, sea levels are expected to rise during this century, thanks to climate change. The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates the sea level could rise by as much as 1 meter by 2100, or just over 3 feet. The IPCC came up with this estimate based on an emissions scenario of RCP 8.5 (RCP stands for representative concentration pathway), which models based on what will happen if emissions continue to rise in their current trajectory—the “business as usual” scenario. And this IPCC estimate does not take ice sheet melting into account, which some studies suggest could make the sea-level rise even greater.

    Even with an aggressive global reduction of carbon emissions, some scenarios still predict a sea-level rise of a 0.5 meter. If either of these scenarios come to pass, it will have numerous and grave consequences for communities and infrastructure around the world.

    Resource Watch, a research platform run by the World Resources Institute, conducted a study in February 2020 to analyze how this sea-level rise would impact one type of infrastructure in particular: airports. It did this by taking Climate Central data on how sea level rises of both 0.5 meter and 1 meter would impact different parts of the world. They then combined that data with altitude, elevation, and geographic data from OpenFlights. This gave it a list of 80 airports threatened by rising sea levels. Out of these 80 airports, 44 will be impacted with a sea-level rise of just a 0.5 meter. The other 36 won’t be under threat until sea level reaches 1 meter or more.

    Stacker chose 30 of the 80 airports highlighted by Resource Watch’s study. Some of these airports are big, like Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, the 11th busiest in the world. Some are small, like Edward Bodden Airfield, located on Little Cayman Island. Many are located on islands, which are naturally vulnerable to sea-level rise. Three of these airports are in the Netherlands, a country with a significant amount of land below sea level. A number are located in China. Many others are situated on island nations, which are already struggling with the impacts of climate change. Some are naval airports.

    What they all have in common is that by 2100, they may no longer exist.

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  • Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

    - Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
    - Airport codes: AMS (IATA), EHAM (ICAO)
    - Threatened by: 0.5 meter or more of sea-level rise

    Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) is the 11th busiest airport in the world, with more than 71 million travelers flying in or out or transferring through it in 2018. With just a 0.5 meter of sea-level rise, it could be flooded by the North Sea. However, this does not take into account flood prevention strategies, and the Netherlands is one of the world leaders in water management.

  • Borkum Airport

    - Location: Borkum, Germany
    - Airport codes: BMK (IATA), EDWR (ICAO)
    - Threatened by: 1 meter or more of sea-level rise

    Borkum Airfield (BMK) serves Borkum, a small island of roughly 5,125 residents located in the North Sea on the northwest coast of Germany. Its location on an island leaves it vulnerable to flooding with 1 meter or more of sea-level rise. In 2013, residents of the island were advised to seek higher ground during Hurricane Xavier.

  • Bosaso Airport

    - Location: Bosaso, Somalia
    - Airport codes: BSA (IATA), HCMF (ICAO)
    - Threatened by: 1 meter or more of sea-level rise

    Somalia’s Bosaso Airport (BSA), also known as Bender Qassim International Airport, could be inundated by 1 meter or more of sea-level rise. The airport is located along Somalia’s northern coast, on the Gulf of Aden. Somalia has been experiencing almost nonstop political instability since 1991, making it especially vulnerable to climate change events such as flooding.

  • Buariki/Aranuka Airport

    - Location: Buariki, Kiribati
    - Airport codes: AAK (IATA), NGUK (ICAO)
    - Threatened by: 0.5 meter or more of sea-level rise

    Aranuka Airport (AAK) is located near Buariki in Kiribati, a small nation in the Pacific Ocean. The country is made up of a number of atolls, and the majority of its nearly 119,000 residents live on the Tarawa atoll, which is where Buariki is located. The Aranuka airport could be underwater with just a 0.5 meter of sea-level rise. It currently runs three flights a week to Bonriki International Airport, which is on the south side of the same atoll. As a nation made of atolls and surrounded by water, Kiribati is on the front line of climate change, and much of it could be completely inundated within 25 years.

  • Changzhou Benniu Airport

    - Location: Changzhou, China
    - Airport codes: CZX (IATA), ZSCG (ICAO)
    - Threatened by: 0.5 meter or more of sea-level rise

    Changzhou Benniu Airport (CZX) is located near China’s eastern coast. It sits along the Yangtze River and near the East China Sea, and it could be covered by water with a 0.5 meter of sea-level rise. This airport operates flights to many other Chinese cities, such as Shenzhen, Chengdu, and Guangzhou. Changzhou is a rapidly growing city, with a current population of more than 3.5 million.

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  • Corn Island Airport

    - Location: Corn Island, Nicaragua
    - Airport codes: RNI (IATA), MNCI (ICAO)
    - Threatened by: 0.5 meter or more of sea-level rise

    The Corn Island Airport (RNI) is located on Big Corn Island, off of Nicaragua’s east coast. It is part of Nicaragua’s South Caribbean Autonomous Region. By 2100, with a 0.5 meter of sea-level rise, the airport could be underwater. The island is working on strengthening climate resilience with the construction of seawalls, learning better-building practices, and increasing communication and outreach.

  • Corvo Airport

    - Location: Corvo, Portugal
    - Airport codes: CVU (IATA), LPCR (ICAO)
    - Threatened by: 0.5 meter or more of sea-level rise

    Portugal’s Corvo Airport (CVU) is in danger of having a flooded runway with a 0.5 meter of sea-level rise. It is located on the southern tip of Corvo Island, part of the Azores archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean. The island only has 465 residents, and the airport operates flights to two destinations: Ponta Delgada (PDL) and Horta (HOR).

  • Edward Bodden Airfield

    - Location: Little Cayman, Cayman Islands
    - Airport codes: LYB (IATA), MWCL (ICAO)
    - Threatened by: 1 meter or more of sea-level rise

    Edward Bodden Airfield (LYB) on Little Cayman Island could be underwater with 1 meter or more of sea-level rise. The small airport is located on the southwest coast of the island, right up against the Caribbean Sea. Although the island is small with a population of fewer than 200 people, it is a popular spot for tourism activities such as scuba diving. Unfortunately, there has so far been a lack of long-term planning for the Cayman Islands when it comes to facing climate change.

  • El Centro Naf Airport

    - Location: El Centro, United States
    - Airport codes: NJK (IATA), KNJK (ICAO)
    - Threatened by: 0.5 meter or more of sea-level rise

    California’s El Centro NAF (Naval Air Facility) Airport (NJK) is a naval airport with a runway that could be underwater by the end of this century with a 0.5 meter rise in sea level. This airport is located in California’s Imperial Valley, which is below sea level.

  • Glasgow City Heliport

    - Location: Glasgow, United Kingdom
    - Airport codes: No IATA code, EGEG (ICAO)
    - Threatened by: 0.5 meter or more of sea-level rise

    Scotland’s Glasgow City Heliport is at risk of seeing flooding from the Atlantic Ocean on its runways with a 0.5 meter of sea-level rise. The heliport is the homebase for Police Scotland's Air Support Unit. Beyond the heliport, much of Glasgow is at risk from sea-level rise, including roads, railways, and hospitals.

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