What you need to know
If you’re worried about rising sea levels, stay out of Yilan
Global sea levels are expected to rise between 0.2 and 2 meters by the end of the century, and island nations like Taiwan will take the brunt of the impact through increased flooding, more intense typhoons and heavier rainfall.
Not all cities are built on equal land, however.
These maps show the effects of a one-meter rise in sea level on Taiwan’s cities, as estimated using data from Japan’s ALOS satellite. Taipei and Taitung come out relatively unscathed from flooding, but Yilan and Kaohsiung are a different story. Kaohsiung’s port, like many around the world, will face issues with the rising tides.
Being below sea level doesn’t necessarily mean underwater. Twenty-six percent of The Netherlands is already below sea level, but a centuries-old system of dykes has allowed the nation to reclaim usable land.
This shows the effects of a two-meter rise in Taiwan: significant amounts of farmland in Yilan and on the west coast could be submerged by the end of the century, and Kaohsiung could experience regular flooding downtown and around the airport. Taitung may appear to be flood-resistant, but it is also more vulnerable to a stormy Pacific Ocean.
It is hard to know if humans will be able to reverse these environmental changes, but if they go unabated, our descendants may have to move to Alishan – research last year in the journal Nature estimates a 15-meter rise if Antarctica and Greenland melt completely.
Let’s hope they learn to build dykes like the Dutch.
Editor: Edward White