Bohai: China’s Threatened Coastline

Bohai: China’s Threatened Coastline

Rising sea levels and their potential impacts on coastal communities have been well documented in recent years, however new studies have revealed predictions highlighting that up to 300 million people may potentially be affected by rising sea levels in the coming decades.

Northern China has been identified as one of the regions in Asia that will see the most number of people affected in coastal communities. It has been estimated that rising sea levels across the country will threaten close to 100 million people in China alone, by 2050.

Many of those at risk live in the Bohai Bay area, in north-east China. It is home to Tianjin, a megacity of over 15 million people. More than 100 square kilometres of the coastal area is beneath mean sea level, making it especially prone to sea level rise. The coastal communities are a mix of fishing villages, ports centered on industry and natural wetlands. All of these are significantly under threat as sea level rises in the region.

Three millimeters per year is the global average for sea level rise. Researchers from China’s State Oceanic Administration have revealed that, “the average sea level along Chinese coastal areas has increased by 90 millimeters (mm) over the past 30 years… Sea level around Tianjin has risen by 196 mm, more than double the average increase in China.”

At Bohai Bay’s southern boundary, the famous Yellow River flows. Even that iconic natural wonder is under threat, as Nasa reports. “Residents of China’s Yellow River delta are swamped by sea level rise of more than nine inches (25 centimeters) a year.”

How are coastal communities adapting to this new predicted future? Are communities ready to change? Will local and national systems be resilient to the impending changes they will undoubtedly face?

By using unique aerial photography, this photo essay focuses on visually communicating the threats and impacts of sea level rise on vulnerable coastal communities in northern China.

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