2050 Climate Change City Index

At Nestpick, we understand that to help people moving to a new location, our team must keep a close eye on trends and developments in the most popular cities around the world. Currently, how climate change will shape our planet both in the coming years and the distant future is at the forefront of many of our minds. To help us understand this better, we decided to conduct a study aiming to determine how the climate might change for major metropolises around the globe. The results reveal those destinations which may face the biggest shifts by 2050, including potential temperature changes, water shortages and rising sea-levels. We hope that this study will serve as a call-to-action for those in charge to ensure that the correct legislation and safeguarding procedures are in place to ensure the longevity and liveability of these cities.

Before beginning the study, it was important to acknowledge the difficulty of climate change prediction science, and the added challenge of presenting climate data in a way that is easily understandable. To undertake this challenge, we consulted several existing research methodologies from established climate change experts and reports to build the framework for our research. These include Jean-Francois Bastin, an Ecologist at the University of Ghent, the Koppen-Geiger climate classification system, the World Resources Institute data on water shortages, and more. We then put together a list of 85 cities which were covered in these existing studies. Looking at climate categorisation, average temperature, sea-level changes and water stress, we then determined which cities are predicted to experience the highest and lowest climate change shift between now and 2050.

“These results are eye-opening to our team at Nestpick, as a number of the cities which will undergo the most drastic changes in climate over the next three decades such as Bangkok and Amsterdam are some of the most popular destinations with expats and contractors looking for opportunities abroad. Millennials, Gen Z-ers and those even younger will increasingly need to keep climate change in mind when searching for the city they would like to eventually settle in,” Comments Omer Kucukdere, CEO at Nestpick. “Governments need to be aware of potential changes coming so that they can mitigate damage. Proper funding into infrastructure and safeguarding would help to ensure that these cities stay ahead of climate-related problems, and ensure the livelihood of these urban centres for future generations.”

Below you can find the full table of results ranked by Total Climate Shift, highest to lowest. Each individual column is filterable. All ‘Scores’ including the ‘Total’ are out of 100, where the higher the number, the greater the predicted change in climate between now and 2050. Please note that this study does not take into account current spending on countermeasures or how this may impact predicted climate shifts.

Please scroll left and right to view all data in the table below.

 Sea LevelClimateWater Shortage 
#CityCountryIncome GroupPotential
Sea-level Rise
Impact 2050
(Score)
Temperature
Baseline:
1970 - 2000
(Degrees F)
Temperature
2050
(Degrees F)
Temperature
Shift
(Degrees F)
Climate Type 2021Climate Type 2051Climate
Shift (Score)
Water
Shortage
2020 (demand vs. supply ratio)
Water
Shortage
2040
(demand vs.
supply
ratio)
Water
Shortage
Relative
Change (%)
Water
Stress
Increase
(Score)
TOTAL

METHODOLOGY

This study was designed to show how climate change may affect some of the world’s most popular cities in the next twenty to thirty years. The final index includes 85 cities, based on top city destination lists, and those with comparable data included in the existing climate change reports utilised for this study. Some key travel destinations which will notably be affected by climate change in the coming years, such as Venice in Italy, have not been included in the final index due to a lack of data in the research framework.

The index is categorised into three key areas: Sea-Level, Climate and Water Shortage. The index is then ranked by the Total Score based on these three sections, where rank #1 indicates the city which is likely to encounter the most extreme changes in climate over the next three decades, and where rank #85 indicates the city which is least likely to encounter a dramatic shift in climate by 2050.

The Total Score = Potential Sea Level Rise Impact Score + Climate Shift Score + Water Stress Increase Score; All scores are out of 100.

Climate projections are usually provided for several scenarios. The “Business as usual” scenario was chosen for all factors. This scenario is described by the World Resources Institute as:

‘The "Business as usual" scenario (SSP2 RCP4.5) represents a world with stable economic development and steadily rising global carbon emissions, with CO2 concentrations reaching ~1370 ppm by 2100 and global mean temperatures increasing by 2.6–4.8°C relative to 1986–2005 levels.’

The full breakdown and methodology for each category can be found below.

Income Group

  • The income groups are defined as per the UN report ‘World Economic Situation and Prospects 2019’ under table ‘2019 capita GNI in June 2018’ p. 172.
  • Source: UN (2019), World Economic Situation and Prospects 2019, UN, New York, https://doi.org/10.18356/a97d12e3-en.

    Sea Level

  • Potential Sea-Level Rise Impact: The higher the score, the higher the potential flooding/sea level impact in that city by 2050.
  • The Potential Sea-Level Rise Impact under the “Business as usual” scenario is based on sea-level rise projections (Kopp et al., 2014) and CoastalDEM® v1.1 map data (Kulp et al. 2018). The resulting projected impact was accessed through the COASTAL RISK SCREENING TOOL provided by Climate Analytics where maps show the areas affected by rising sea levels and coastal flooding. This factor does not take existing anti-flooding and control infrastructure of the city into account, where cities have already put anti-flooding measures to mitigate future risk into place. This factor also does not take into account extreme weather occurrences such as hurricanes, heavy downpours etc. Cities that are unaffected by coastal flooding or not geographically by the coast are automatically given a score of 1. The higher the score, the higher the potential flooding/sea level impact.

    Source

  • https://coastal.climatecentral.org/
  • Kopp, Robert E., Radley M. Horton, Christopher M. Little, Jerry X. Mitrovica, Michael Oppenheimer, D. J. Rasmussen, Benjamin H. Strauss, and Claudia Tebaldi. ‘Probabilistic 21st and 22nd Century Sea-Level Projections at a Global Network of Tide-Gauge Sites’. Earth’s Future 2, no. 8 (2014): 383–406. https://doi.org/10.1002/2014EF000239.
  • Kulp, Scott A., and Benjamin H. Strauss. ‘CoastalDEM: A Global Coastal Digital Elevation Model Improved from SRTM Using a Neural Network’. Remote Sensing of Environment 206 (1 March 2018): 231–39. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2017.12.026.
  • Climate

    The Climate category includes the following data points:

  • Temperature Baseline: 1970 - 2000 (Degrees °C)
  • Temperature 2050 (Degrees °C)
  • Temperature Shift (Degrees °C)
  • Climate Type 2021
  • Climate Type 2051
  • Climate Shift (Score)
  • Temperature

    Temperature Baseline: 1970 - 2000 and Temperature 2050 show the average annual temperature based on Bastin's city analogue study.

    Temperature Shift is calculated based on the change of annual temperature between 1970-2000, and includes projections for 2050.

    Using the research article “Understanding climate change from a global analysis of city analogues” by Jean-Francois Bastin et al. (2019), this index created projections of temperature changes in roughly thirty years time based on the “Business as usual” scenario. The paper which describes how the climate of current-day cities will match those with different climates by 2050. For instance, the report predicts that in 2050, Amsterdam’s climate will be analogous to the climate of Paris, London and Rotterdam today. Thus, for the purpose of this study, Amsterdam’s 2050 temperature projection is based on the mean annual temperature in Paris, London and Rotterdam from 1970-2000. By matching each city in the index to its predicted equivalent climates for 2050, the predictions for 2050 annual temperature change were then able to be calculated.

    Note that the temperature columns in the index are provided for reference, and do not contribute directly to the total score, as temperature is part of a wider set of climate parameters that make up the Climate Shift Score.

    Source: Bastin JF, Clark E, Elliott T, Hart S, van den Hoogen J, et al. (2019) Correction: Understanding climate change from a global analysis of city analogues. PLOS ONE 14(10): e0224120. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0224120

    Climate Type 2021 and 2051

    Climate Type 2021 and Climate Type 2051 use the official climate categories based on the "Koppen-Geiger Observed and Predicted Climate Shifts" projections via ArcGIS. Each climate type was matched with the official Koppen climate type classification.

    Explanations of Koppen climate classification can be found here: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%B6ppen_climate_classification)

    Source: ArcGIS

    Climate Shift Score

    The Climate Shift Score is based on Bastin's climate change city analogues study and the climate type score. The score is an amalgamation of the change in climate type between 2021 and 2051 including the change in annual precipitation, change in annual temperature, change in temperature of the warmest month, change in temperature of the coldest month and change of precipitation in the wettest month.

    Source: Bastin JF, Clark E, Elliott T, Hart S, van den Hoogen J, et al. (2019) Correction: Understanding climate change from a global analysis of city analogues. PLOS ONE 14(10): e0224120. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0224120

    Water Shortage

    The Water Shortage category includes the following data points:

  • Water Shortage 2020 (demand vs. supply ratio)
  • Water Shortage 2040 (demand vs. supply ratio)
  • Water Shortage Relative Change (%)
  • Water Stress Increase (Score)
  • Water Shortage 2020 and Water Shortage 2040 data originates from the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas which evaluates the current and future water stress levels for metropolitan areas in the world. Water Stress is defined as “the ratio of demand for water by human society divided by available water.” The parameters which were taken into account for this index were the future value of water stress in 2020 and 2040 under the "business as usual scenario" for the central location of every city.

    Due to lack of data in central areas of some cities, the data for the following cities was taken from the central metropolitan areas named below:

  • Copenhagen: Tycho Brahe Planetarium, Copenhagen Municipality, Denmark,
  • Miami: HistoryMiami Museum,
  • New York: Brooklyn Museum,
  • Reykjavik: Reykjavík Art Museum Ásmundarsafn
  • Stockholm: Nobel Museum, Stortorget, Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Water Shortage 2020 and Water Shortage 2040 show the raw demand versus supply ratio where 1.00 indicates that water supply matches demand. A ratio of below 1.00 indicates that there is a greater supply of water than demand, where a ratio of above 1.00 indicates that demand outweighs supply.

    Water Shortage Relative Change (%) is calculated using to the following formula: ( max((ratio_2040 - 1),0) - max(ratio_2020 - 1),0) ) / ratio_2020

    The equation calculates the % increase in water stress, relative to the water stress in 2020. Water stress is defined as the difference between the demand vs. supply ratio and a ratio of one; as a ratio of one or less means the city is not under stress.

    Water Stress Increase Score shows how some cities will experience an increase in water shortages over the next twenty years. The higher the score, the greater the increase in water stress. For example, Santiago’s water demand vs. supply ratio shifts from 1.64 to 3.51 between 2020 and 2040, resulting in a Water Stress Increase Score of 71.89 due to the significant increase in water stress.

    Most cities in this dataset, however, will not experience an increase in water stress, and were therefore given the lowest possible score of 1.00. A score of 1.00 was given in two cases:

  • When the water stress level predicted for 2040 is expected to be 1.00 or lower–meaning that there will be enough supply to meet demand. For instance, the water stress indicator for Vienna is expected to increase from 0.04 in 2020 to 0.06 in 2040. However, 0.06 is far below 1.00 and so despite the increase in the water stress measurement, the city is not expected to experience water shortages and receive the lowest possible score.
  • When the water stress level is predicted to decline, the city is given the lowest possible Water Stress Increase Score of 1.00.
  • Sources: World Resources Institute, Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas