Sea-level rise from land subsidence in major coastal cities

Publication type

Journal Article

Research Area


Research Team



Coastal land can be lost at rapid rates due to relative sea-level rise (RSLR) resulting from local land subsidence. However, the comparative severity of local land subsidence is unknown due to high spatial variabilities and difficulties reconciling observations across localities. Here we provide self-consistent, high spatial resolution relative local land subsidence (RLLS) velocities derived from Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar for the 48 largest coastal cities, which represent 20% of the global urban population. We show that cities experiencing the fastest RLLS are concentrated in Asia. RLLS is also more variable across the 48 cities (−16.2 to 1.1 mm per year) than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimations of vertical land motion (−5.2 to 4.9 mm per year). With our standardized method, the identification of relative vulnerabilities to RLLS and comparisons of RSLR effects accounting for RLLS are now possible across cities worldwide. These will better inform sustainable urban planning and future adaptation strategies in coastal cities.


Climate change, geophysics

Publication Details


Nature Sustainability

Date Published


Subscribe to the EOS Newsletter

Stay in touch with the latest news, events, research, and publications from the Earth Observatory of Singapore.

Email is required

Email is wrong format

You Can Make a Difference

Partner with us to make an impact and create safer, more sustainable societies throughout Southeast Asia.
Make A Gift