Two-thirds of the Earth is covered with water, and almost reaching 97 percent of it is saltwater. It is kind of like a certainty that some cities in the future (and in the past), would be submerged in water. The future we are talking about here might arrive sooner rather than later, so when we say in the near future, it could happen in our generation, within our lifetime. While this article will discuss some cities that could possibly be underwater in the "near future," 50 or 100 years from now. Or through a drastic change in climate and/or after experiencing a devastating natural calamity, it could be as soon as 30 or 25 years. Rising sea levels are especially concerning for cities that are located near the coast, or Island cities and countries.
The first part of this article is a list of underwater cities around the world, amazing structures, buildings, monuments, and evidence of a civilization that are proof that these amazing underground cities were once above the waters and were homes to people. Reflecting on these, thinking about our own city getting submerged in water permanently may not be far-fetched or a crazy notion at all. The second part of this article lists 10 cities in the world that are at risk of being underwater in the future.
Before the underwater city was discovered, the notion of Phanagoria as a city was just another story in mythology. Fiction became real when archaeologists unearthed a gravestone of the legendary Hypsikrates, the wife of Mithradates VI. This underwater city now lies under the waters of the Black Sea, but long ago it was the largest Greek city. Further explorations were made and divers saw marble plinths, artifacts, and that amazing tombstone. The underwater city of Phanagoria is technically on Russian soil now.
The ancient city of Dwarka lies below modern day Dwarka in India. About 130 feet below the surface are magnificent ruins of the ancient city of Lord Krishna. Local legend tells of Lord Krishna's city of palaces made of precious gems, silver, and gold. The underwater city was discovered in the year 2000 and one artifact was believed to have come from the mythical city of Dwarka. Not so mythical now, the golden palaces may be deeper in the seabed, they would definitely be worth a fortune.
A small town in Argentina called Villa Epecuén was a prosperous community just 40 years ago. A lot has changed since then, though. During the late eighties and early nineties the town slowly sank, or the waters of the nearby EpecuénLake, or Lago Epecuén, slowly rose. The town was completely submerged in water before the end of the millennium. Then, in 2009, the waters came down and what they now have in Villa Epecuén are traces of a once-thriving community of about 5,000 people.
If there were ever beautifully preserved underwater remains of a city that once flourished above ground, it would be Jamaica's, Port Royal. As devastating as it was for the port and its inhabitants, it was reported that the sinking of the port city took the lives of about 2,000 people. It was a perfectly preserved underwater city because when it sank, it happened in just minutes. It was a 30-year old port with relatively new structures that sank during a massive earthquake that shook the whole area.
Temples and stone statues, a lot of shipwrecks, assorted evidence of a city that was once above ground, these underwater remnants are what can be seen and what remained from an ancient Egyptian port. The sunken city of Thonis-Heracleion in Egypt was the official port of the country a long time ago. Perhaps the engineering and architecture of ports were not as strong because it was believed that the reason for Thonis-Heracleion sinking was an earthquake that broke an already unstable base.
China's famed underwater city is one of those rare underwater cities that was submerged on purpose. To make way for the construction of a huge dam in 1959. The inhabitants of the city all had to move out permanently for the project to get done. Now the Lion City is 40 meters underneath Quiandao Lake and is well-preserved. Checking it out is like having a scuba tour of ancient China as it has amazing artifacts and large structures from the Qing and Ming dynasties.
When archaeologists came upon thousands of pieces of pottery spread over the seabed off the Samoan coast, they knew that these belonged to some form of civilization. Research of the area and its history led to the Lapita. They were a group of settlers that originated in Eastern Asia and traveled to Micronesia and Polynesia in 2,000 BC. These people flourished in the Pacific Islands for years and were known to be very skilled at pottery. The island of Upolu believed to have been inhabited by the Lapita people, and these pottery shards were theirs. Archaeologists speculate that rising tides may have sunk some settlements in the area, along with these pottery artifacts.
This mysterious underwater city in Greece is called Pavlopetri. Remnants of the city and artifacts led archaeologists to claim that the city sunk about 5,000 years ago. Unlike the other ancient underwater cities found all over the planet, this lost city is really a forgotten one, as there are no myths or local legend that supports its existence. They say the underwater city of Pavlopetri may have existed during the Minoan civilization. Like most sunken and lost cities in this article, it also believed that Pavlopetri fell and sunk during an earthquake.
Curon and its unfortunate fate was an accidental sinking of a city after a dam construction had gone wrong. Curon is a city in Italy, near bordering countries Austria and Switzerland. Presently, the city is underneath Lake Recia, and the only thing letting people know that there once was a city in this location covered by the lake is a church bell tower standing in the middle of the water. During winter, one can walk on the frozen lake and see the city's bell tower up close.
The Ryukyu Islands of Japan offers a spectacle no other island in the world possesses, an underwater pyramid. The amazing and gigantic structure is called the Yonaguni Monument, a 250-feet piece of boulder shaped like a pyramid. Some say it's not man-made, but natural, but we think it is man-made. How can a structure this big and shaped as it is not be created by men? It was probably an ancient project of the Japanese people but was abandoned when Egypt beat them to it. Whatever the reason is, the underwater pyramid is one spectacle that lures diving enthusiasts from all over the world.
Think of the Taj Mahal swimming in a kiddie pool; that's what the Jal Mahal looks like. It is a 300-year old palace in the middle of India's Man Sagar Lake. The people of India made the mistake of constructing a dam after the erection of this palace, the dam flooded the area and the Jal Mahal along with it. Today, the Water Palace of Jaipur is a tourist attraction. Come at night because the Jal Mahal is best viewed with the moon shining on the water.
If there is an underwater city with a lot of artifacts and remnants in it, the Atlit-Yam in Israel is that city. It is a submerged Neolithic settlement with countless evidence of a bustling city. There are well-preserved ancient roads, houses, and other structures. There are also stone circles, hunting tools, and seeds for farming. In the submerged city, they even found skeletons of men, women, and children. Furthermore, they found that some of the remains died of tuberculosis, which kind of makes the ancient people of Atlit-Yam the patient zero of this disease.
Archaeologists claim to have found Cleopatra's Palace. The iconic Egyptian queen and her palace were found underwater, and they even claim that in it is her tomb. It is quite a historic find, it might as well be an underwater museum. Located off the coast of Alexandria, Cleopatra's Palace and tomb are not the only amazing things they found here. They also found the Lighthouse of Alexandria and the Temple of Isis. For sure, this location would become one of the best tourist attractions in the world.
A millennium and a half-year-old city were discovered at the bottom of a lake in Bolivia. This lake is called Lake Titicaca, and about 20 meters from the lake's surface one will start to see the remains of the forgotten and lost city. Archaeologists and divers found, aside from a temple, terraces, walls, and roads. These structures were believed to be the city of Wanaku, a popular local myth that has just been proven to be more than mere myth.
During ancient times, there was a city in Italy, much like a hot vacation spot for celebrities of that time. Ancient celebrities were the kings and queens, emperors and royalty. The Vegas-y city was called Baia, and it was a Roman settlement at that time. After a takeover by foreign forces in the 8th century, the city was abandoned. The rising tides and the lack of civilization to maintain the city led to it going underwater. Some of the remnants can be seen from a boat and it's kind of like a tourist attraction today.
Most cities that are in danger of going underwater like the ancient cities and the more recent ones in the previous list are facing an inevitable that is in truth, unstoppable. What's more alarming is that it will happen, contrary to what people believed years ago, global warming is real. Brazil's capital city of Rio De Janeiro is one of the cities in real danger of getting swallowed up by the rising waters, and the population of 1.8 million knows it. Research says that just an increase of 3 degrees Celsius could flood and envelop the Copacabana Beach, even the Barra de Tijuca town nearby and the place's airport.
Atlantic City in New Jersey, from recent news and natural calamity, is one of the cities in the United States facing the dangers of fast-rising sea levels due to global warming. Hurricane Sandy showed us how vulnerable this New Jersey city could be and what damage nature could do to such a developed city. All those buildings and modern structures will be helpless against the waters rising, and no amount of seawall could ever permanently stop what Nature intends to do if it does happen.
It's not that China is not aware or ignoring the force of nature threatening their major city on the east of the country. The city of Shanghai and the government of China has undergone and are undergoing current projects to try and control the flooding and the rising water that is a credible threat to the urban city and its almost 18 million residents. They constructed a deepwater drainage system and a multi-billion yuan project that disposes of floodwater out of the towns. A seawall was also constructed along the waterfronts, and current projects are underway to help the people deal with the floods such as walkways.
Miami is one of the largest coastal cities in the world and threatens to affect an estimated 2.7 million people that live in this city located in Florida. The city's government is in the process of raising funds to improve their drainage system, pump stations, and seawalls. The most credible threat is a county that could go underwater in the next 15 years or so. Whenever the city streets get flooded, the water rises up to knee-high, and that's a sign that is not very good news for the citizens of this US city.
Osaka's situation is a little grimmer than the rest of the cities included on this list. One of the oldest cities in Japan, rich in culture and tradition, is riddled almost monthly with typhoons, rainstorms, and tsunamis. History has taught the citizens of Osaka that the rising sea levels and the probability of their city being swallowed by the ocean areas possible as any other natural event that poses a threat to them. Massive seawalls have been built but they are really not enough, and if there is no other form of protection, the problem is estimated to affect 5 million people in the city.
Although London is notorious for random rain showers on an otherwise sunny day, tourists have come and complained about the unpredictable weather this city has. The problem this United Kingdom city faces is the melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels. Global warming can devastate a lot of cities in the future and one of the first casualties would be London. The Thames Barrier is working overtime now to protect London and its residents from flooding. The rise in sea level has escalated to a millimeter rise annually for London, Scotland, and the rest of the south.
Another city in the United States that is in danger of being an underwater city is Charleston. Charleston is a coastal city with beachfront mansions and beautiful beaches, located in the southern portion of South Carolina and facing an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean. A 2007 article in the local paper projected the city to be underwater in the next 100 years. But that projection was 11 years ago, times have changed and sea levels have risen dramatically and alarmingly all over the planet. This projection is off by a few decades at best.
An unpublished research paper discussed during the National Symposium on Tropical Meteorology made possible by the India Meteorological Society two years ago estimated about 40 percent of Mumbai will be underwater within a century. The research scientifically estimated 190 square kilometers, almost half of Mumbai's land area, could be flooded and submerged. Rising global temperatures brought about by relentless carbon emissions powers global warming every day, melting polar ice caps at a rate that the weather change cannot catch up with.
The city of Alexandria in Egypt is no stranger to underwater cities as we've discussed in the first half of this article, its waters have an underwater city that includes Cleopatra's Palace. The people, surprisingly, seem unaware of the threat global warming poses for their coastal city, and the government has not really done anything to raise the awareness, or if they did it did not stick. The beach could be engulfed in a matter of 70 years, and some parts would be swallowed by the rising tides. The city could be the underground neighbor of Cleopatra's tomb and palace in the future.
The research that tackled the effects of rising sea levels on Sydney discusses the threat to coastal areas, but also the same threat, if not greater, is faced by inland suburbs. The low-lying suburbs in Sydney, especially the ones with rivers, are not saved from global warming, as most people would think. These places are Cromer, Caringbah, Kurnell, and significant parts of Newcastle. Residences and commercial buildings along the Parramatta River and Cooks River would get flooded faster than the other suburbs in Sydney. The iconic Sydney Opera House would need serious renovations to account for the rising sea levels.