A new report shows that some of the world’s largest cities are sinking at a faster rate than sea levels are rising. In fact, some of them will likely disappear altogether.
The World Economic Forum reports that 33 cities worldwide are sinking at rates of more than one centimeter per year, which is five times the rate of sea levels rising. Most of the coastal cities are located in Southeast Asia, but there’s one city in the Western hemisphere that made the top 10 list: Houston, Texas.
Houston is ranked as the 10th fastest sinking city in the world, going down at a rate of 1.95 centimeters per year. Some parts of Houston are sinking at a faster rate of two inches per year, which will result in more intense flooding. The rate of its sinking coupled with rising sea levels could lead to the city “disappearing” altogether by 2100.
According to the report, the sinking is likely caused by subsidence, or “the settling and compacting of land based on changes beneath the surface of the ground.” Areas with a high concentration of residential buildings or industrial activity are at the highest risk of subsidence.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the city is working to alleviate subsidence and slow down the sinking. However, the World Economic Forum believes that subsidence can not be reversed, only slowed down. This means that Houston may have some more time to figure out how to minimize the damage, but they’ll need to figure out a long term solution before the city goes under the sea.