A fishing boat lies in a colourful small river that has formed in the lower reaches of the Yellow River estuary which marks the southernmost boundary of Bohai Bay. Shandong province, China. 2019
A fishing boat crashes through rough seas in Jingtang harbour, Hebei province. This stretch of coastline has been highlighted as one of the most vulnerable in China and will be one of the first to feel the impacts of rising sea levels and increased storm surges. China, 2019.
Unidentified industrial pollution is collected near Heiyanzi village on the shores of Bohai Bay, in Hebei Province. China, 2019.
A factory releases emissions into the sky above the city of Tianjin, in north-east China.
Waves crash against sea wall defences in Jingtang harbour, Hebei province. China, 2019.
An oil-stained beach at Laomi Gukou in Hebei province. Bohai Bay is home to some of China's largest reserves of oil and gas, making it a centre for oil exploration. The region has suffered from a number of oil spills in recent decades which continue to effect local ecosystems. 2019
People search for shells by the remains of an unidentified structure, near the megacity of Tianjin in north-east China. Major infrastructure that supports the daily functioning of the city is often the first impacted as storm surges hit and sea levels rise. The city also has problems with land subsidence which exacerbates the problems faced. 2019
A diver harvests sea cucumbers on a farm near the Luan River in Hebei Province, northern China. Sea cucumbers are sensitive to rising temperatures and harvest numbers have dropped in years when the water temperature is higher than average, leading to concerns about the future of local aquaculture with a warming climate. 2019
Unidentified industrial pollution is collected in a lake near the Pocheng River, which runs into Bohai Bay, in Shandong Province. China, 2019.
A bird flies over Shijiutuo island, a newly developed ecological park for tourists in Hebei province, China. Lying on the shores of Bohai Bay, this region of coastline has been identified as severely prone to coastal erosion and at high risk of flooding. 2019.
A deserted pavilion extends out into Bohai Bay near the town go Ninghe, in eastern Tianjin. This stretch of coastline has been identified as being particularly vulnerable to coastal erosion on will increasingly be threatened as sea levels rise and storm surges increase. 2019
China – 2019
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.
Guardian Feature – February 2020
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.