Surging Seas: Seeing Choices

Created: 6/12/2019 - Updated: 2/27/2020


This map shows sea levels locked in by different amounts of carbon pollution, according to recent scientific research. If we burn enough fossil fuels to heat the planet by 4°C—continuing a path of unchecked pollution—we could drown coastal cities worldwide. If we make a rapid transition to a global clean energy economy and achieve the main goal of the Paris Agreement, limiting warming to 2°C, some cities will be saved. If we go faster and further to achieve the most ambitious Paris goal, 1.5°C, the outlook improves dramatically. Still, it is sobering to map the challenges following after 1°C of warming, a level we have just passed.

According to Climate Central’s analysis, 470 to 760 million people (central finding, 627 million) live on land that would be condemned by 4°C warming. The number drops by more than half for 2°C, and more than half again for 1.5°C.

These two efforts evaluate how much warming we can currently expect in light of the national pledges made at Paris and the policies developed since then.



Climate Central is an independent nonprofit organization that was founded in 2008 to meet the need for a central authoritative source for climate change information.

Climate Central scientists publish peer-reviewed research on climate science; energy; impacts such as sea level rise; climate attribution and more. But our work isn't confined to scientific journals. We investigate and synthesize weather and climate data and science to equip local communities and media with the tools they need to visualize the threat of climate change and the need for practical solutions.


Scale of Project
National / Federal
Sector Addressed
Land Use Planning
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Sea level rise
Type of Tool
Adaptation Planning / Decision Support
Habitat/Biome Type
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Conduct / Gather additional research, data, and products
Tool Cost