Sinking cities


I saw a video in BBC where they suggested that Jakarta is the fastest sinking city in the world. What causes it? If its an abandoned island in the middle of the ocean, it’s kinda ok but what about a city like Jakarta?

In: Engineering

It’s hard to say without seeing the video in question and hearing the exact context in which “fastest sinking” was used, but my interpretation would be something along the lines of:

> Jakarta is the city which is losing the most land per day/month/year etc to sea level rise

The reason it would be losing most would presumably be because it’s particularly low-lying and has relatively more land at lower elevations than other cities, so loses more land more quickly to seas rising.

Sinking is the wrong word, kinda
The ocean (particularly in that area) is rising.
The land is not getting lower, the water is getting higher.

More evidence of rapid climate change.

You are correct, if an island is abandoned there is no harm in the entire island sinking, or another surfacing. This actually happens all the time. We gain and lose small islands like this.

As far as what causes this, recently we can blame rising sea levels due to climate change. Everyday, the sea level is rising due to the melting polar ice caps.

Is this a bad thing? Yes, this is a bad thing, and it means a lot for humanity. If a city sinks entirely we lose that useable land. We do have enough space for every human on the planet, much more. We do not have enough space for everything that we do. Farming requires a lot of space, so loss of farmable land is a big loss to humanity. Next, everyone from the area will be displaced somewhere else. They will put a strain on the resources of wherever they move to. Also that area had a local economy that fed into the larger global economy. A loss of all production would have an impact on the economy. These are just a few reason, but a heavily populated area going away would have a significant impact.

Well, there are a couple of things happening here to make Jakarta the fastest sinking city in the world. The most obvious, as has been mentioned here, is that global sea levels are rising.

However, average sea levels are uniform throughout the planet (taking into account the tides). This alone would not make Jakarta the “fastest” sinking city, as every landmass on earth is losing the same amount of height above-sea-level due to melting ice.

The real thing that is making Jakarta sink so fast is something happening other places as well: pumping out ground water. The city has so much water pumped from its aquifers that it is sinking something like 6-7 inches *per year*, which is quite a lot.